The Cabinet is to decide later today on whether to proceed with Phase 4 of the country’s reopening next Monday.
This would include the reopening of pubs and hotel bars as well as allowing gatherings up to 500 people outdoors.
It has been described as a make or break day for the industry by the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland, which represents 3,500 pubs outside of Dublin.
It said the already delayed reopening is putting a huge strain on publicans, their families and communities, who, the VFI said, have been forced to stand aside while big gatherings happen in uncontrolled environments like house parties.
Ireland had been due to move to Phase 4 of the roadmap on reopening last month, but it was deferred due to a rise in the Covid-19 reproductive rate.
Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has refused to be drawn on whether the remaining pubs can reopen their doors next week, either fully or with restricted hours.
He said he has sympathy with pub owners but that all options will be considered with a view to keeping the re-opening of schools on track.
Minister Donnelly said he will be guided by the advice of the National Public Health Emergency Team, which will meet this morning to discuss the options .
That will be followed by a meeting of the Cabinet this afternoon, when an updating of the Government Green List for foreign travel will also be considered.
Yesterday, the Department of Health was notified of 46 additional cases of Covid-19, with no new deaths recorded.
The death toll remains at 1,763. There are a total of 26,208 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Ireland.
Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn urged people to “continue to observe the safe behaviours that we recommend such as physical distancing, washing hands regularly, wearing a face covering where appropriate, avoiding crowds and doing all we can to protect each other”.
By Mary Regan
Tuesday 4th August 2020 08.04 updated