Cabinet to discuss measures to curb crowds gathering outdoors to drink alcohol

Cabinet is to decide on new measures to prevent people meeting in groups outside to drink alcohol.

ealth Minster Stephen Donnelly will bring a memo to Cabinet on Tuesday with a view to introducing new measures to prevent people gathering in crowds on the street.

However, it is believed the measures will stop short of a full ban on the sale of takeaway drinks.

Instead, it looks like fines will be introduced for people who gather in groups outside drinking alcohol.


Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan during a media briefing at Government Buildings, Dublin (Julien Behal/PA)

Speaking on his way to Cabinet on Tuesday, Green Party leader and Transport Minster Eamon Ryan said the Government had to be careful about protecting individual freedoms.

He said: “We’ve got to be careful around protecting rights along at the same time as controlling the virus. I think we can do that.

“I think, Irish people, we’ve done well. I think we should reflect on the fact that within Europe, we’ve probably some of the lowest levels of transmission. It’s not as if the people haven’t really kicked in here, we have.”

It appears the Government has pulled back from proposals to ban the sale of takeaway drinks from licensed premises outright, as had been discussed on Monday.

The practice is allowed under the current level five restrictions, but people are not allowed to consume their drink within 100 metres of the pub.

Under the proposals being considered, a person found consuming alcohol within 100 metres of the premises would be liable for a fine of up to 300 euro.

Publicans could also be in line for fines of up to 1,500 euro if they allow it to happen.

Concerns were raised at the weekend after videos and photos circulated on social media showed people congregating and drinking alcohol on the streets in Dublin and Cork.


Taoiseach Micheal Martin has condemned the scenes of people drinking at the weekend (Brian Lawless/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said he was “extremely concerned” by the scenes on the streets of people not adhering to social distancing measures, adding that it puts the progress being made in the fight against coronavirus into “jeopardy”.

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn branded those involved as a “selfish minority” who were putting the safety of others at risk.

But he dismissed calls from publicans suggesting the way to resolve the problem of people consuming takeaway pints on the streets was to reopen pubs and facilitate drinking in more controlled environments.

“Just because we’ve seen scenes like we did on the streets on Saturday night does not mean that the answer to that is to open up pubs,” said Dr Glynn.

The weekend drinking scenes came as Dr Glynn and chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan are warning about a recent upturn in case numbers after recent progress in driving down infection rates.

Mr Martin expressed his annoyance at what had unfolded in Dublin and Cork.

“I’m extremely concerned and very annoyed about it,” Mr Martin told Red FM on Monday.

“I think it flies in the face of what’s acceptable in terms of adherence to the guidelines and regulations, because we all have to work to try and get the incidence of the virus down.”

PA Media

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