This year's St. Patrick's Day will be a somber—and sober—one in Ireland. The Irish government announced Sunday that to combat the coronavirus outbreak, all pubs should remain closed until at least March 29, the BBC reports. The government also strongly advised against holding private parties. Mass gatherings had already been banned, but pubs and bars had been allowed to remain open. The Irish government said it decided to close pubs after industry representatives said it would be unfeasible to maintain social distancing in drinking establishments. The move followed outrage over videos shared on social media showing pubs crowded with drinkers on Saturday night, reports CBS.
"Not far from here, nurses & doctors are working to prepare for the impact of a global pandemic," tweeted Minister for Health Simon Harris on Saturday, sharing a video of drinkers singing in a crowded bar. "Everyone is working 24/7. This is an insult to their efforts. There is very clear public health advice. Follow it." After Sunday's announcement, he tweeted: "Huge sacrifice being made by many who work in this sector so please let this be a sign to all about how seriously we must take this." Ireland reported 40 new coronavirus cases Sunday, bringing the total to 169, including two deaths. (Read more coronavirus stories.)