The Taoiseach has confirmed that the reopening of pubs, hotel bars and nightclubs will now not go ahead on 10 August as planned.

Micheál Martin also said the size of crowds gathering will remain at 200 for outdoors and 50 for indoors and he said the evidence will be reviewed again in three weeks' time.

"I know that this will come as a blow to pub owners and I want them to know I have enormous sympathy for their plight. This virus is taking away their ability to earn a living, to provide a key service in the heart of many communities," Mr Martin said.

"But we are doing what we are doing to save lives and to give our society and economy the best chance we can to open safely and sustainably," he said

However, he said international evidence shows that pubs and nightclubs opening too early leads to community transmission and he said that is the worst thing that could happen here.

The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly has said what was driving public health advice and the government decision was public safety and public health, the health of the economy and a focus on reopening schools.

Speaking on RTÉ's Primetime he said international evidence showed that community transmission increased when pubs were reopened.

He said the matter would be reviewed in three weeks, but it was not as simple as getting cases to a certain level.

He said it was a very dynamic situation and the Government was responding in a dynamic way.

He said the Government did not underestimate how difficult today's decision was for publicans.

In relation to face coverings, the Taoiseach said they would be mandatory in retail settings around the country from 10 August.

He also said that Malta, Cyprus, Gibraltar, San Marino and Monaco have now been dropped from the Green List of countries that are safe to travel to. 

He again appealed to people to have patience and he said the only way to suppress the virus was if we continue to work together and fight the virus.

Ireland had been due to move to Phase 4 of the roadmap on reopening last month, but it was already deferred once due to a rise in the Covid-19 reproductive rate.

Mr Martin reiterated that opening the schools and the resumption of non Covid-19 health procedures in a safe way was essential.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the Covid-19 pandemic is "blazing" around the world and he said the number of new cases is rising again in Europe.

He said Ireland was in a relatively good position and he said the Government wants to keep it that way and not risk schools reopening in a few weeks' time.

Mr Varadkar said for workers who thought they are going back to work next week and businesses who thought they would be reopening, this is a "body blow" for them and he said the Government is "very sorry" for that.

The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said Ireland has been doing well with no new fatalities in the last nine days.

He said Ireland's rate of new cases is still low by international standards. However, he said we are dealing with a "vicious disease".

The Minister said it would not take much for the new cases and clusters to grow and the Government was trying to avoid this.

The Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said that there has been a concerning increase in the disease over the past seven days.

He warned that no age group is immune to this virus and he said the National Public Health Emergency Team has recommended more communication with younger people about Covid-19.

He said that a significant proportion of new cases in recent weeks are being found under the age of 45.

He said it was not about blame but he said we must encourage each other to sustain the great efforts we have made to date.

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Mr Varadkar said that there are particular sectors that will be closed for longer than anyone thought, including pubs.

He said a group of ministers has been tasked to examine to see what is possible to further protect those sectors.

Mr Martin said that pubs, serving food, and restaurants will have to close by 11pm. However, he said he would not use the word "curfew".

Mr Varadkar said all customers would have to be off these premises by 11pm but staff could stay to clean up and he said they could stay open for takeaways and deliveries. 

He said they want to stop any restaurants that may have been operating almost as pubs.

The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) and the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) accused the Government of abandoning smaller pubs across Ireland.

In a joint statement, they said that 3,500 pubs across Ireland had been expecting to reopen next week but must now remain closed.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health has been notified of no new deaths related to Covid-19 and 45 additional confirmed cases.

This means the total number of fatalities remains at 1,763, with a total of 26,253 coronavirus cases.