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Simon Harris update on pubs reopening date as he says nobody can 'preempt the process'


Simon Harris has said the current plan is to reopen wet pubs but nobody can predict what will happen.

The Higher Education Minister, formerly the Health Minister, said if there’s a spike in cases in any part of the country, the Government will have to look to NPHET for advice and that nobody can “preempt the process”.

His warning comes amid an increase in cases, particularly in Dublin, over the past several days.

But he added that the publication of a new Covid-19 roadmap for Ireland next Tuesday is a chance for the Government to “up our game”.

Mr Harris told reporters at a briefing today: “In relation to the pubs, I don’t want to speculate any further because I don’t want to accidentally add to the speculation that I know has driven vintners and publicans absolutely crazy over the last few months.



Simon Harris

“I know the vintner bodies from my time as Health Minister, they came to see me, they asked me would we ask them to close because they didn’t believe they could safely open at that time.

“They’ve worked really hard, they’ve sacrificed a lot, [there’s] a huge amount of stress and strain on them, their families, their staff and indeed communities, particularly rural communities and social isolation and the likes.

“Many of us saw that picture of the gentleman sitting in a pub having his pint of Guinness and his meal with his alarm clock beside him. There is the reality in terms of the impact of social isolation as well, when pubs, particularly in rural Ireland, shut down.

“The plan at the moment is that from the 21st of this month pubs can open, but Government was clear – in any part of the country, if there’s a spike in cases, NPHET will have to advise Government as to what’s appropriate to do.

“Nobody standing at this podium or any other can preempt that process, because they’re watching the figures on an hourly and daily basis.

“I would hope we’ll be in a position on Tuesday, when we presumably approve the new roadmap and publish it, to add final clarity to that.

“I think your point on communication is dead right, in the sense of the new plan being an opportunity to press, kind of, reset.

“Let’s be honest – we’re all a little weary of talking about Covid-19.

“Talking about it, listening about it, it’s seems to have been all-consuming for all our lives.

“It’s been a time of great anxiety.

“Everyone has worked really hard. There’s only so many times people want to hear us say ‘wash your hands, cough into your elbow’ but these are really important things.

“So I think the new plan is an opportunity to level with people, to be honest with people, to tell people in blunt terms: what do the next few months look like? What do we need to watch out for? If X, Y and Z happens, what will that mean? What are the different phases? What is safe to do?

“I have great faith and trust in people that if you tell them the truth, tell them it bluntly, whether it’s good news or bad news, people will respond in kind because they want to keep themselves safe, their families safe and their communities safe.

“Government – we need to up our game on this and next week is an opportunity to do it.”



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