Taoiseach says keeping pubs closed right decision, opening everything was 'not tenable' 

Taoiseach says keeping pubs closed right decision, opening everything was 'not tenable' 

However, Mr Martin said that did not mean he was casting any aspersions on pub owners.

Micheál Martin has said the right decision was made in keeping wet pubs closed over the festive period as Covid-19 cases would be “dramatically escalating” by Christmas if they had reopened.

He has also said Ireland is “not necessarily” facing another lockdown next year, but that the situation is being kept under review.

Speaking in Carrigaline yesterday, the Taoiseach said that opening everything was “not tenable”, but believes they have struck a balance in terms of what sectors and industries have been permitted to open their doors again.

“The correct balance was arrived at, and if wet pubs were opened, there’s no doubt we would be facing very dramatically escalating numbers [of Covid-19 cases] by the end of this month,” said the Taoiseach.

“That, unfortunately, is the reality.”

However, he said that did not mean he was casting any aspersions on pub owners.

“It’s not their fault, it’s just the nature of what has happened in pubs in the autumn period which we have tracked and we know about.”

He highlighted the extra Covid restrictions support scheme funding being given to pubs that have to remain closed, and acknowledged that it is a “very difficult” time for publicans.

“Our fundamental objective is to protect life and to protect public health,” said Mr Martin.

“Already we can see numbers are still in and around the 300 mark.

“So the situation, from a Covid point of view, is one that we have to keep under constant review.

“The idea that you could open up everything was simply not tenable, but I think we’ve got the balance right because one can’t keep the population under severe restrictions for too long either.

“People did work hard for six weeks. We got the numbers well and truly down, and I think we’ve given opportunities for certain sectors in the economy to recover, but also give people a break and some respite as we lead into Christmas.

“That is important too.”

Asked whether a further lockdown will happen in January or February, the Taoiseach replied: “Not necessarily”.

“When we move out of Christmas we’ll assess the situation then,” he said.

“We’ll also assess it sector by sector, make informed decisions based on data, and see what type of restrictions would be optimal to keep the pressure on the virus to stop it spreading, while keeping as much of the economy going, and keeping as many people as we can at work.

“When we reopen, it’s about giving people hope.

“Making sure they can go back to their jobs and get some income and some quality of life.

“That’s important as well in terms of the mental wellbeing of people.”

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