Cork publicans frustrated by ‘last-minute’ Covid-19 guidelines

Vintners’ representative relieved by lifting of restrictions on bar service and opening hours

Pub-goers were able to order a drink at a bar counter for the first time in 18 months over the weekend but the relatively late publishing of guidelines led many venues to keep to table service, according to publicans.

Michael O’Donovan, who owns the Castle Inn in Cork city and is the chairman of Cork City and County Vintners’ Federation, said members were still seeking clarity on proposed ticketing arrangements for live music venues.

“The guidelines need to be published as soon as is possible. We have been getting them all at the last minute.”

Officials from the Departments of Enterprise and Tourism will meet on Tuesday to finalise the guidelines, and new regulations are due to be published during the week.


Under the plan, tickets must be purchased in advance for live events and nightclubs where attendees are not seated “in order to facilitate contact tracing and to avoid massed congregation outside venues from walk-up customers”.

However, pubs playing music to seated patrons will not have to operate a ticketing system.

“We are operating businesses and trying to create employment so we need clarity in the next 24 hours for the late-night sector next weekend. We need the guidelines by at latest Tuesday lunchtime so people can start getting ready for work that is coming at the weekend,” Mr O’Donovan said.

“The whole thing could be bizarre. You might be after a meal in a bar at nine o’clock and after a few drinks and you might have to leave the premises and come back in with a ticket if it turns in to a late-night venue.

“I know they are trying to make ticketing more for the clubs but the unfortunate thing is that they operate under the same licence as pubs so it is really difficult to operate venues with these guidelines.”

He noted the Guinness Cork Jazz weekend was a huge boost to the city with queues outside many venues. “What was hard was the crowds outweighing capacity in the city” but every effort was made to keep pubs and nightclubs safe.

He said the guidelines allowing people to order drinks at the counter, although they cannot sit there, “came very late so most [bars] stuck to table service”.

“We appreciate public health experts are having a say and its difficult to know what is happening but at this stage we should be getting guidelines faster.”