Delayed reopening a 'kick in the teeth', say devastated publicans

Swan owner Ronan Lynch brands decision to push back opening three weeks ‘a disgrace’

Ronan Lynch, owner of The Swan on Aungier Street, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Ronan Lynch, owner of The Swan on Aungier Street, Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The delay in allowing pubs to reopen has been described as “devastating” by a third-generation Dublin publican who said everything was already in place for a planned reopening next Monday.

The Swan, on the corner of Aungier Street and York Street in Dublin 2, is one of a handful of Victorian pubs left in the city. Its owner, Ronan Lynch, said the decision was “a disgrace”.

He pointed out that he had a range of health-and-safety measures planned including social distancing and hand sanitisation stations and strict guidelines for staff to follow.

He accused the Government of failing to even discuss any details of the measures already taken and those which were still required with the industry.

“This is absolutely devastating,” he said. “We have been closed for 18 weeks and were the first and hardest hit sector . We all have financial commitments and things are just going to get harder and harder. It is so frustrating because we have not had any communication from Government as to what more we need to do.”

He said the successful reopening at the end of June of pubs that serve food had given the sector great confidence that the remaining pubs would be facilitated from Monday, which made the news even harder to swallow.

“There has been no dialogue from Government, it has been appalling, and we will end up being closed for 40 per cent of the year. We missed St Patrick’s Day, the end of the football and rugby season, all other sports and the tourist season, and on top of all that we have Brexit coming down the tracks.”

He said what made it harder to understand was that publicans were already accustomed to managing customers better than most other sectors and knew how to control their space in a responsible fashion.

‘Devastation’

His views were echoed by others in the pub trade.

“It is just devastation for us, the work we have put in to be ready for Monday for them to simply say we can’t reopen for another three weeks,” said Paul Moynihan of Moynihan’s Bar in Donard, Co Wicklow. “And it will be devastating for our customers too.”

He pointed out that house parties and other social gatherings would continue where there would be few guidelines followed, “and yet we are the ones being kicked in the teeth”.

“I can’t fathom it. Even on a personal level I was really looking forward to seeing our customers again, and we would have been well able to control it, but nobody appears to be listening to us.”

Walsh’s pub in Stoneybatter has reconfigured its operation so it can reopen as planned on Monday.

“The delay is simply not fair on so many pubs,” owner Anthony Malone said. “We were concerned this might happen and have been planning to offer food, and that is what we will do. Everything will be by the book and it will hopefully be another small step back to normal.”