COVID-19: HSE asks people not to cross border to pubs in NI


HSE chiefs have warned people not to break for the border when the pubs reopen in the North in two weeks time.


It was revealed last night that outdoor eating and drinking in Northern Ireland will resume on April 30 with a plan for pubs and hotels to welcome punters back inside on May 24.


The news come as publicans here have now called on the government to ensure all pubs are allowed to serve customers outdoors within the next six weeks.


Vintners groups say they are worried that any long delay between the reopening of hospitality in the North and in the Republic will lead to thousands making the journey across the border.


Padraig Cribben, chief executive of the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI), said: From 30th April, pubs in the North will resume outdoor drinking and dining so in a few short weeks our members in the border region will start to lose customers across the border.


For how long is that sustainable? Its another clear cut reason why Government must publish its reopening plan for hospitality immediately.


Tempted
However, HSE chief executive, Paul Reid, told The Star yesterday people should hold firm and not be tempted to break public health rules to enjoy the greater freedoms up North.


We strongly urge the public to continue to embrace the public health measures. We are on a really good trajectory out of this and we really want everybody to help see this home.


The more we do that, particularly with the trajectory were on right now, it does give Government a widening of choices and much wider choices in terms of opening up of society and the economy.


 


"Strengthened border controls have been put in place, in terms of people moving between the border.


 


But ultimately were so close to seeing this all the way home, that wed urge people to stick with it.


From a HSE perspective, we believe the public health recommendations that NIAC would recommend, and they would go to Government for decision, and again, from our perspective, we are just urging people to comply.


So whatever NPHET consider, its for Government to decide on.


But ultimately from our perspective, you know, just keep doing what were doing, its working.


HSE Chief Clinical Officer, Dr Colm Henry, added: Our advice strongly is for people to stay with the public health measures, which means dont leave your county, or the State.


The HSE chiefs were speaking as it was revealed there had been a further eight COVID-19 related deaths in Ireland and 309 new cases.


There are now 51 patients with COVID-19 in intensive care the lowest it has been since the beginning of the year.


Pint
Meanwhile, Tanaiste Leo Varakdar declared he is increasingly confident that pubs and restaurants will be allowed have customers indoors for a pint and a meal within the next few months.


Hairdressers, beauty salons and non-essential retail are set to be given the green light too.


 


The Tnaiste said details on what and when restrictions will be lifted in June and July will be announced in a revised plan in two weeks.


Mr Varadkar also said he is confident the Government will hit its target to have over 80 per cent of people vaccinated with at least one dose by the end of June.


He said: Well be able to set out what restrictions will ease across May and weve already given indications as to what they might be, but well also be able to set out in a revised plan as to what June and July might look like, to give people and businesses an indication as to how restrictions could be eased across the summer provided we keep going in the right direction.


Restaurants
On pubs and restaurants reopening, Mr Varadkar added: We would expect to be in a position at the end of April to give an indication as to how hospitality might reopen across the course of June or July.


Meanwhile, in the North, Stormont ministers agreed that hairdressers can reopen and all pubs can serve customers outdoors from April 23.


All retail will also reopen on April 30, while caravans and all self contained tourist accommodation can also re-start.


Indoor hospitality venues, including all pubs and hotels, are to reopen from May 24, as well as indoor visitor attractions.


First Minister Arlene Foster told the NI Assembly that it was a landmark day.


We ask everyone to be mindful, she said. Step out, but step out carefully.


 


--Reporting by Ferghal Blaney and Ciara Phelan