A Mayo pub owner was arrested hours after opening his “wet” pub to customers who were given rapid-tests to ensure the premises was Covid-free.

Claiming his premises was the first “Covid-free pub” in Ireland, Donal Byrne, the owner of Eileen’s Bar in Aghamore near Knock, was found to be in breach of Covid-19 public health regulations because his pub was not serving food with drink, and was therefore not permitted to open.

The Mayo publican, who conducted rapid-testing for Covid-19 on his customers, had told Midwest Radio before opening that “food, as we know, does not stop Covid, or prevent Covid”, but was arrested late last night after Gardaí visited his bar.

Gardaí issued the following statement: “An Garda Síochána carried out an inspection at a Licensed premises in Mayo yesterday 10/12/2020.

“Gardaí alleged a number of breaches of Public Health Regulations and guidelines to the owner of the premises and requested that the premises come into compliance.

“Following unsuccessful engagement a male in his 30s was arrested for Breaches of the Health Act 1947 as amended. The male has subsequently been released from Garda custody and a file will now be prepared for Director of Public Prosecutions.

“All other person present complied with the Public Health Regulations and the premises was subsequently closed.

“Social responsibility, social distancing, wearing of masks (other than on public transport and in commercial premises) and other such public health guidelines are not penal regulations.

“The COVID-19 Pandemic remains a public health crisis and An Garda Síochána continues to appeal to all citizens to comply with Public Health Guidelines and Regulations in order to continue to save lives.”