Concerned about coronavirus, 'reckless behavior,' Ireland closes all pubs before St. Patrick's Day

We'll raise a glass to what could have been.

Leaders in the Republic of Ireland closed all pubs and bars to stop the spread of the coronavirus and help curb rowdy behavior on St. Patrick's Day, one of the busiest days of the year for Emerald Isle taverns.

A man dressed as St Patrick walks past a closed bar in Dublin city center, Monday, March, 16, 2020.

A man dressed as St Patrick walks past a closed bar in Dublin city center, Monday, March, 16, 2020. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

Irish Premier Leo Varadkar announced the news via Twitter on Sunday afternoon. The message from the Government Press Office cited the global pandemic and recent reports of “reckless behavior” at an unnamed pub in making the decision.

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“In discussion with the Licensed Vinters Association (LVA) and Vinters Federation of Ireland (VFI,) the government is now calling on all public houses and bars to close from this evening until at least March 29,” the statement said.

All pubs in the Republic of Ireland were called upon to close late Sunday to try and tackle the spread of Covid-19.

All pubs in the Republic of Ireland were called upon to close late Sunday to try and tackle the spread of Covid-19. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

“The Government, having consulted with the Chief Medical Officer, believes that this is an essential public health measure given the reports of reckless behavior by some members of the public in certain pubs last night,” it continued. “While the government acknowledges that the majority of the public and pub owners are behaving responsibly, it believes it is important that all pubs are closed in advance of St. Patrick's Day.”

A sign on the door of The Temple Bar announced it would be closed with immediate effect amid coronavirus fears.

A sign on the door of The Temple Bar announced it would be closed with immediate effect amid coronavirus fears. (Aine McMahon/PA via AP)

The LVA and WFI had warned of the “real difficulty” in keeping people apart, per recommended health regulations, in Ireland famous watering holes. Officials also urged people not even to hold house parties in a bid to slow the spread of the viral disease.

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Tourists wearing face masks walk past a closed pub in Dublin city center, Monday, March, 16.

Tourists wearing face masks walk past a closed pub in Dublin city center, Monday, March, 16. (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

The closures took effect on Sunday night at midnight, Sky News reports.

According to Reuters, videos of spirited groups singing in bustling Dublin had recently sparked outrage on social media. One bachelor party in particular was seen moving down the street in “medical overalls and face masks,” an offense that Ireland’s Health Minister Simon Harris decried as an “insult” to medical workers.

Though the drastic decision was made for the good of the nation, Twitter users largely agreed that they were shocked by the news, so soon before St. Patrick's Day.

One commenter joked that the news would serve as great motivation to improve coronavirus testing measures.

Dublin had previously canceled its famous St. Patrick’s Day parade due to the virus.

As of Tuesday morning, the United Kingdom has reported 1,553 cases of the coronavirus, among at least 183,425 cases reported worldwide.

As of March 12, Ireland effectively launched a partial lockdown from 6 p.m. local time for two weeks in the fight against COVID-19.

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Last week, Varadkar announced that all schools, universities and other public facilities will be closed and teaching will be done online or remotely.

He said restaurants and other businesses can stay open and public transport will continue to operate but urged citizens to “seek to reduce social interactions as much as possible."

A Cabinet committee on COVID-19 was scheduled to meet on Monday to discuss the best future plans for restaurants and cafes, The Irish Times reports.

Fox News’ Chris Irvine and the Associated Press contributed to this report.