July 6, 2020 / 3:37 PM / a month ago

Irish pub reopening could be delayed after 'worrying' crowds outside bars: PM

FILE PHOTO: A man walks his dog past coronavirus artwork painted on the shuttered windows of a pub following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Dublin, Ireland, May 15, 2020. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne/File Photo

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland’s prime minister warned on Monday that authorities may delay the full reopening of pubs after “very worrying” scenes of packed crowds of drinkers outside some bars over the weekend.

Photos posted on social media on Saturday showed people outside a row of pubs in one part of central Dublin, in apparent violation of social distancing rules imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19.

They were gathered near bars serving food, which were allowed to reopen last week. The rest of the country’s pubs were due to follow on July 20.

“It could be delayed. We will get advice from the public health officials. We are worried about it... People do need to behave,” Micheál Martin, who took over as prime minister just over a week ago, told Cork’s 96FM.

“Some of the scenes that we witnessed are very worrying because social distancing was not being complied with at all during a number of the inspections and the opening hours weren’t being adhered to either.”

The head of Ireland’s police force, Drew Harris, said on Monday the crowds had been seen at one location in Dublin, and that inspections had shown that the vast majority of operators had complied with the regulations.

Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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