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Covid crisis: Restaurants and pubs to be ‘key battleground’ in lockdown exit talks

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irishtimes– Restrictions on restaurants and pubs are expected to be central to discussions between the Government and public health officials next week as the plan for exiting the lockdown is finalised.

Senior sources involved have described indoor hospitality as “a key battleground” in the forthcoming discussions. These are likely to be defined by public health experts advising caution while some Government figures push for as wide a reopening as possible, according to several people involved.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said he wants Ireland to exit Level 5 of Covid-19 restrictions on December 1st.

However, he said this Christmas will be a very different one from previous ones in that large groups people could not congregate in pubs or other settings.

“That will pose challenges for us. It will not be a normal Christmas but it can still be a safe and enjoyable Christmas if we mind ourselves and if we mind others,” he told Virgin Media News.

Asked about the easing of travel restrictions, he replied: “We would like to see some relaxation of 5km and county borders.”

It is expected the Government will finalise the plan for exiting the lockdown and managing the pandemic during December and beyond by the end of next week.

The Cabinet will meet on Tuesday and there will be ongoing meetings of the oversight group. The Cabinet subcommittee will also meet to discuss exiting lockdown. There may be a second Cabinet meeting later in the week, according to Government sources.