Gardaí receive legal powers to shut down pubs breaching Covid-19 restrictions

ireland
Gardaí Receive Legal Powers To Shut Down Pubs Breaching Covid-19 Restrictions
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Digital Desk staff

Gardaí have received legal powers today to close restaurants and bars which are in breach of Covid-19 restrictions.

President Micheal D Higgins signed the Criminal Justice Enforcement Powers Covid-19 Bill into law.

It comes as Ireland's “wet pubs” are set to reopen on September 21st following the agreement of the Cabinet.

Gardaí have detected close to 200 potential breaches of Covid-19 regulations in pubs or restaurants as part of the force's Operation Navigation over recent months.

The operation sees gardaí carry out checks on licensed premises to ensure they are not serving alcohol without food in line with Covid-19 regulations.

At the beginning of September, An Garda Síochána said the “vast majority” of licensed premises continued to comply with regulations as it conducted regular checks across the country.

Pubs that do not serve food have been closed since mid-March, after a number of reopening dates were postponed due to a rise in the daily number of confirmed Covid-19 cases.

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Irish publicans have endured the longest lockdown in Europe, according to the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland, who say over half of Irish pubs remain shuttered as a result of pandemic restrictions.

The reopening of pubs around the country later this month will remain subject to local restrictions.

New guidelines

New draft guidelines have been drawn up for the sector by Fáilte Ireland and are said to contain few additional restrictions than those currently imposed upon premises serving food.

Under the guidelines, social distancing can be reduced to one metre from the standard two in a controlled environment, however, pre-booking and time-limited slots will not be required if a physical distance of two metres can be maintained.

This means pubs operating under these conditions will not have to limit customers to spending no longer than 105 minutes on the premises.

Publicans will only be permitted to serve people at their tables, and will be required to fully disinfect their bars a minimum of twice a day.

All patrons will have to vacate the premises by 11.30pm each night, meaning late night bars and nightclubs are likely to remain closed.

It also recently emerged that “wet pubs” will be allowed to host live music when they reopen on September 21st as part of a wider drive to give support to the entertainment sector.

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