(Adds acting chief medical officer’s comments)
DUBLIN, July 6 (Reuters) - Ireland could delay the full reopening of pubs after “very worrying” scenes of packed crowds of drinkers outside some bars over the weekend, Prime Minister Micheál Martin said on Monday.
Photos posted on social media on Saturday showed people outside a row of pubs in a 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,” 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.”
The head of Ireland’s police force, Drew Harris, said 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.
Ireland’s acting chief medical officer said that he was very concerned by the packed crowds of drinkers.
“We’re in a very good position in the country at the moment, an almost uniquely good position in Europe, but we’re at a crossroads and we’ve choices to make,” Ronan Glynn told a news conference, reporting that Ireland had fewer than three COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the past 14 days.
“We’re at a point now where we’re asking people to do this for their friends and neighbours who are healthcare workers and are simply not ready for another wave, for their nieces and nephews who really need to get back to school and for the sick and the vulnerable who will be most at risk.” (Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Timothy Heritage)