Health Minister Simon Harris has warned that publicans who are ignoring public health advice to close their doors could face problems renewing their licences in the future. 

He thanked publicans who had shut their doors, but said he had heard of a small number opening in contravention of advice. 

Mr Harris said that if this happens, emergency powers signed into law on Friday will be used immediately to shut them down.

He also warned: "We will remember those who undermined the health and well-being of our people when it comes to renewing licences. 

"The health service has the right to give a view on licence applications. We will never forget those who risked the health of our people."

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said that if such premises become known to the Department of Health that it will advise the Minister to use his regulatory powers to enforce a temporary closure of the premises to stop the spread of Covid-19.

The Department of Health @roinnslainte is aware that pubs in some areas of the country are continuing to open - despite existing public health advice.

If any such premises become known to us, @SimonHarrisTD will be advised to use his regulatory powers to temporarily close them.

— Dr Tony Holohan (@CMOIreland) March 21, 2020

Under the new emergency legislation, the Minister can make regulations prohibiting events and banning access to certain premises.

RTÉ News reported yesterday that more than 30 pubs had been inspected by gardaí in west Cork on Thursday night and one of the pubs was found to be open with a number of customers present.

Gardaí are understood to have warned the publican that non-compliance with the Government request would be considered in advance of the annual licensing court later this year, and that they may object to the publican's licence renewal application.

Gardaí do not currently have a legislative basis to enforce pub closures but, under the Intoxicating Liquor Act, one of the conditions for holding a pub licence is that the holder is a responsible person.