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Pubs to remain shut as Cabinet decides against increasing crowds for sporting fixtures

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*Goal posts being sprayed with disinfectant at Cusack Park. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

Pubs will not reopen next Monday while increased crowds at sporting fixtures will not be allowed for at least three weeks, the Government announced on Tuesday.

Phase 4 in the roadmap for reopening Ireland which was due to proceed on August 10th will not go ahead, the Taoiseach Micheál Martin (FF) confirmed on Tuesday evening. The reopening of pubs, hotel bars, nightclubs and casinos were included in phase four along with an increase in the amount of people permitted at indoor and outdoor gatherings.

A meeting of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) issued the recommendations which were discussed at a Cabinet meeting at 4pm on Tuesday with details announced at a press conference shortly after 6:30pm.

“International evidence shows very clearly that pubs and nightclubs reopening too early leads directly to an increase in community transmission,” Martin stated. The Government has decided that pubs that do not serve food will remain shut, the matter will be reviewed again on August 31st.

Taoiseach Martin said the country was now in a “precarious position”. He commented, “I wish that I was in a position to share better news today, but I am not. It is now clear that our cautious approach in mid July was the correct approach”. He added, “The five day moving average for confirmed cases newly reported to the Department of Health is 45.4. For comparison, this is up from 6.4 on 24th June. The 14 day incidence per 100,000 is 7.54. This is up from 2.46 in the 14 days up to 30th June”.

Sympathy for the “plight” endured by pub owners was voiced by the Taoiseach. Cyprus, Malta, Gibraltar, Monaco and San Marion have been removed from the Green List, individuals that travel to either of these countries on essential business will have to limit their movements for 14 days upon arriving back to Ireland.

As a result of the limit of 200 people for outdoor gatherings remaining, sporting attendances will not increase. The GAA and FAI were among the organisations that were hopeful crowds of 500 would be allowed but this has been rejected by the Cabinet.

Players, backroom teams, media, officials, stewards and volunteers account for the majority of personnel currently allowed to attend games leaving less than 100 tickets to be divided between two clubs for games. Phase 4 of the easing of restrictions had originally been planned for mid-July before an increase in the coronavirus reproduction number led to reopening being delayed.

Earlier on Tuesday, the GAA decided to cancel its 2020 season ticket scheme due to the ongoing certainty amid the virus and the scheduled return of inter-county action in October.

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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