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Further blow to pubs as Government pledges ‘very cautious approach’

Ministers are discussing whether to press ahead with the final phase next Monday.

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Tanaiste Leo Varadkar spoke before the Cabinet meeting (Niall Carson/PA)

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar spoke before the Cabinet meeting (Niall Carson/PA)

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar spoke before the Cabinet meeting (Niall Carson/PA)

Public health experts have urged the Government to take a “very cautious approach” to reopening sectors over the coming weeks.

Tanaiste Leo Varadkar said they will be recommending that advice during Tuesday afternoon’s Cabinet meeting.

Mr Varadkar and Taoiseach Micheal Martin met with acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn and the National Public Health and Emergency Team (NPHET) ahead of the meeting.

Ministers are discussing whether to press ahead with the final phase next Monday, which includes the reopening of pubs and allowing meetings of up to 500 people outdoors.

What I can say is that it is an unfortunate truth that this pandemic is still raging across the worldLeo Varadkar

Speaking at Dublin Castle, Mr Varadkar said: “We had a meeting with the acting chief medical officer just now and we’ll have a Cabinet meeting next and a decision will be made at Cabinet and we’ll announce it afterwards.

“What I can say is that it is an unfortunate truth that this pandemic is still raging across the world, and even in Europe where it is under relative control, we have seen an increase in cases across Europe, including here in Ireland.

“Relative to other European countries, we are still doing quite well and we want to keep it that way.

“We want to make sure we do nothing that jeopardises the opening of schools and colleges in the next couple of weeks and that’s why, on the advice of NPHET, we will be recommending to Cabinet that we will take a very cautious approach over the next couple of weeks.

“I know that’s going to come as a further blow to some of the sectors that have not been reopened but we just can’t risk going backwards or risk the reopening of schools.”

Mr Martin said: “We just had a fresh briefing from the chief medial officer in respect of the advice from NPHET. It was very firm and we have a Cabinet meeting now and we’ll talk afterwards.”

The Government has repeatedly said its main priority is the reopening of schools at the end of the month.

Concerns have been raised over the rising number of Covid-19 cases and clusters in recent weeks.

On Monday, there were 46 new coronavirus infections reported, bringing the total number of infections to 26,208 in the Republic.

Mr Martin is to confirm the Government’s decision following the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday evening.

PA