Pubs across the country could remain shuttered until Christmas in an attempt to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus. A further 596 coronavirus-related deaths were reported today, bringing the total death toll to 16,060.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, Gove, said that “areas of hospitality” would be among the last sectors to return to business.
He said: “The other inference that I draw from your question, which is areas of hospitality will be among the last to exit the lock down, that is true, they will be among the last.”
Speaking on Sky’s Sophy Ridge Mr Gove said it was “too early” to decide on a lockdown exit plan.
Mr Gove added: “Entirely understandable of course that there should be a public debate about how we approach these difficult choices.
“The most important thing to do is to make sure that we proceed in a way that is guided by science and one of the things we need to have are all the facts all the data in front of us to know what would be appropriate to do at what time.”
Following the briefing, Frank Maguire from Truman’s brewery in London, told The Sun: “Things are looking pretty dire. At this rate it seems unlikely we will be open again before Christmas.
“Christmas is about as big as business gets for the pub industry. It will be a huge loss.
“January and February are dead months — without Christmas to carry us through, we will struggle. It will be a very glum start to 2021.”
Ireland’s health minister, Simon Harris, said that he did not see “how people can be in packed pubs again as long as this virus is still with us.”
Mr Harris told the Irish Independent: “I’d like to see a situation whereby our schools could come back or at least could come partially back.
“What’s not going to come back quickly are scenarios in which we can’t safely socially distance.
The statement comes as many pubs in Ireland – which employ 58,000 people – fear they could go bankrupt before they are allowed to reopen.
The Irish Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) chief executive Donall O’Keeffe said if the restrictions carry on for much longer, many pubs would be out of business.
He said: “If that happens then most pub businesses in this country will be out of business for good.
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“The LVA will absolutely support whatever measures are deemed necessary in the interests of public health… but if closing pubs until 2021 is going to be necessary, then it is essential that a specific pub support scheme is introduced.
“Otherwise, there won’t be a pub industry in this country by the time a vaccine is found.”
Sir Jeremy Farrar, a government scientific adviser, said yesterday that the country has overcome the peak of the pandemic, but warned that there could be subsequent waves if social distancing guidelines fall through.
He told Sky’s Sophy Ridge: “I think the probability and what we must be planning for is that there will be further waves of this in the future but for this first wave I think the number of new infections stabilised about a week or two ago and the number of hospitalisations maybe a week or so ago.
“Yes, tragically, there are still far too many people dying but the number of people dying in this country and actually in many countries in the world, is now either stabilising or starting to come down.
“That is good news, we are probably just past the peak in many parts of this country as is true in many parts of the world and we’ll come off that and numbers will reduce but that has only happened because of the public’s respect for and following the advice around the social distancing and lockdowns.
“If we were to release those lockdowns too soon, whilst the infection rates are still high and there are still people in the community who have got infected, then the epidemic will come back again, it will come back very quickly.
“It would rebound within a few weeks or a couple of months so it is critical that people are – and they are, the public is really respecting the advice and it is that which has led to the change in numbers.
“These things don’t happen by chance, they happen because of what we’re all doing and the public deserves great thanks and respect for that.”
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