Setback to pub reopening plans as health chiefs warns against moving into phase four next week

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Government plans to reopen pubs and nightclubs have suffered a major setback as public health chiefs have issued a stark warning about the spread of Covid-19.

he National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) has raised serious concerns about moving into the fourth stage of the Government’s plan for reopening the country due to the increasing number of coronavirus cases.

The final phase, which is due to begin on Monday, would see pubs and nightclubs reopen. The number of people who could attend mass gatherings would also increase to 100 people for indoor events and 500 outdoors.

However, health chiefs expressed concern at a meeting today about the doubling of new cases over the last two weeks and the high rate of infection among young people.

They agreed to highlight these concerns directly with Health Minister Stephen Donnelly ahead of tomorrow’s crucial Cabinet meeting.

The new Government is now facing its first big decision on the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nphet did not specifically warn against reopening pubs and nightclubs or increasing the number of people who can attend indoor and outdoor mass gatherings.

However, they said they are deeply concerned about moving into the final stage of the roadmap due to the spread of the virus.

“Nphet will give their advice and the Government will make their decision,” a source said.

Central to their concern is the spread of the virus among younger people who are more likely to go to pubs or attend mass gatherings.

The Cabinet will meet tomorrow to discuss entering into the final stage of the plan to reopen the country.

Speaking in the Dáil, Taoiseach Micheal Martin said he was more concerned about house parties than pubs reopening.

“What is of more danger than anything is a situation where we have 30 or 60 people at a house party or parties taking place on certain roads in our cities, and we will have to do something about that,” Mr Martin said.

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Source: Irish News