Irish pubs may be prosecuted for COVID-19 public health breaches

DUBLIN (Reuters) – Twenty-six Irish pubs face possible prosecution and the risk of losing their licences over potential breaches of health regulations introduced to control the spread of COVID-19, Irish police said on Thursday.

That represented just 1% of the 2,785 premises mostly found to have reopened in line with guidance last weekend, when bars serving food were allowed to trade again as part of Ireland’s gradual unwinding of a lockdown imposed in March.

In many of the potential breaches, police found customers consuming alcohol but no evidence of food also being consumed and no evidence of receipts to show that food had been sold.

Officers also observed a lack of adherence to public health advice, such as allowing large groups at one table, little to no social distancing, no advisory signage and no COVID-19 contact tracing information being recorded.

Police submitted a file to the Director of Public Prosecutions for direction as to how to proceed.

Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin warned on Monday that the government could delay the full reopening of pubs on July 20 after “very worrying” scenes of packed crowds of drinkers outside some bars over the weekend.

“We remain concerned that a minority are potentially operating in breach of the regulations,” Deputy Commissioner, Policing and Security, John Twomey said in a statement.

“We are sending a clear message to such premises that we will be opposing their liquor licence renewal applications in September unless they come into compliance.”

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