The Irish government announced a $19 million support package to help pubs, bars and nightclubs, which remain closed indefinitely, according to an Irish Department of Business statement released Friday.
The support package will offer “restart grants” of between $6,700 and $41,700 to help businesses reopen when the time comes, and the government will also waive certain pub license fees for 2020.
“It’s been a really difficult few months for pub owners,” said Irish Deputy Premier Leo Varadkar. “Our publicans are making a massive sacrifice to protect their communities and the government is determined to help.”
On Thursday, Irish health authorities announced “wet” pubs and bars, which do not serve food alongside alcohol, would remain closed indefinitely due to the rising number of cases in hospitals.
That’s the third delayed reopening for pubs, bars, and nightclubs, which were initially scheduled to reopen in July, which was kicked back to Aug. 10 and eventually Aug. 31. Meanwhile, pubs that also serve food were able to reopen in late June.
“Our focus has to be on getting case numbers down, controlling the spread of this disease, and we will keep the reopening of pubs, along with the other measures that might be able to be eased, under review over the coming weeks,” said Dr. Ronan Glynn, the Irish Department of Health’s acting chief medical officer, during a briefing on Thursday.
Ireland recorded 127 confirmed new cases of Covid-19 on Friday and 93 confirmed new cases on Thursday, according to the latest Department of Health data.
“The cases, whilst not escalating rapidly, are continuing to escalate,” said Glynn on Thursday. “If we continue along that road for a prolonged period of time, we will see more hospitalizations, we will see more people in critical care and it will have knock-on effects for many parts of our society and our economy,”
“We’re not contemplating a national lockdown as things currently stand. We certainly hope that we don’t get back to a situation like that, but ultimately the power to prevent that is is each of our hands as individuals over the coming weeks,” he added.
In a video message posted to Twitter Friday, Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin said, “Our core values will ensure we continue to suppress COVID-19 to allow our economic, social and cultural life to safely recover and flourish into the future,” he added.