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Ireland closes all pubs and bars after packed weekend amid coronavirus pandemic

Europe's once-busy streets come to a halt amid coronavirus fears
Europe's once-busy streets come to a halt amid coronavirus fears 02:07

Those looking to get a pint on St. Patrick's Day at a pub in Ireland will now have to look elsewhere. All bars and pubs in the country will closed beginning Sunday night, and will remain closed until at least March 29 due to the coronavirus outbreak, the government announced in a press release Sunday.

The decision comes after the government said it spoke with industry representatives who explained the "real difficulty" in implementing social distancing in a public house setting, "as pubs are specifically designed to promote social interaction in a situation where alcohol reduces personal inhibitions," reads the release. 

Leadership is also asking the public not to hold or attend house parties or gatherings at, "other venues which would put other peoples' health at risk."

"The government, having consulted with the Chief Medical Officer, believes that this is an essential public health measure given the reports of reckless behavior by some members of the public in certain pubs last night," states the release.

The guidance comes after multiple videos were posted on social media this weekend showing packed watering holes in the country, prior to the St. Patrick's Day holiday on Tuesday. 

"Not far from here, nurses & doctors are working to prepare for the impact of a global pandemic," tweeted Minister for Health Simon Harris on Saturday, with a retweeted video of revelers singing in a packed bar. "Everyone is working 24/7. This is an insult to their efforts. There is very clear public health advice. Follow it. All options will be kept under constant review #CoronaVirusUpdates."

Harris later tweeted the closure announcement, writing it is a "difficult day for staff & businesses but right thing to do."

The release added that the government "acknowledges" most patrons and pub owners are "behaving responsibly," but still believes it is crucial that bars and pubs shutter before St. Patrick's Day. The government concluded that it will "monitor the situation," to ensure businesses comply with the request, and to see if additional or different measures are needed in the future. 

All St. Patrick's Day parades across Ireland were already canceled due to coronavirus early last week. 

Forty new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus were announced in Ireland on Sunday, bringing the total confirmed cases to 169, according to a government release. There have been two deaths associated with COVID-19 in Ireland. 

As of Sunday night, there have been more than 160,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the world, with over 6,500 deaths, according to numbers from Johns Hopkins. More than 75,000 people have recovered from the disease. 

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