Dublin publicans want beer gardens open nationwide on May 24th
LVA marks 400 days of pub closure, and says it has been a ‘huge mental torture’ for staff
Donall O’Keeffe, chief executive of the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA), and Noel Anderson, LVA chairman, at a photocall to mark 400 days since pubs shut their doors due to the pandemic. Photograph: Conor McCabe Photography
Publicans in Dublin have called for beer gardens to be opened up across the country from May 24th in line with those in Northern Ireland.
So-called “wet pubs”, those that do not serve food, will have been closed in the capital for 400 days on Tuesday as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. They represent approximately a third of all the pubs in Dublin.
All pubs in the Republic were closed on March 15th last year. Those that served food in Dublin had a brief reopening during the summer and at Christmas time, but have been closed for most of that time.
The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA), which represents pubs in Dublin, has launched a “call to action” on the 400th consecutive day of closure for wet pubs.
The LVA is urging publicans across Dublin to mark the day by contacting their local political representatives and urging them to ensure all pubs – traditional and gastro – across the country can start providing outdoor service from the week beginning May 24th.
Incoming LVA chairman Noel Anderson said pub-owners and their staff had been through “huge mental torture” since the hospitality industry was closed down. “There is a huge divide in this society. You have a third of us working in travel and hospitality that have been absolutely crucified.”
He suggested pubs could open their beer gardens now following the lead of pubs in England, and he said the LVA wanted to be reasonable about reopening and give its members a chance to do so safely.
“All the data is suggesting that outside is the safest. Common sense would tell you that everybody is outside now and the cases have not spiked.
“It’s the common sense thing to do. We can get staff back to work, we can get our businesses going. We can pay our taxes. We could save the Government a lot of money on supports.”
Mr Anderson admitted many LVA members who have no outside space were angry with the suggestion. “We understand that, but we have to start somewhere.”
Grogan’s publican Daniel Smith said many of the pub’s staff will have left the industry because of the pandemic. Grogan’s, on South William Street, Dublin, has not opened since March 15th last year.
“It’s going to be a massive challenge over the coming years. People thought they had bar work to fall back on if things didn’t work out elsewhere. That security is gone nowadays. We can’t rely on it anymore.”
The LVA argues that pubs should be fully reopened by the end of June, when the Government anticipates that 80 per cent of the adult population will be vaccinated.
LVA chief executive Donall O’Keeffe said the “unjust segmentation” between wet pubs and gastropubs needed to stop.
“The risk profile is the same for indoor hospitality service in all venues – traditional pubs, gastropubs, restaurants and hotels. With hotels expected to reopen in June, all forms of hospitality should be allowed to resume indoor service from that point.”
Many Dublin pubs opened over the weekend for takeaway pints. An LVA spokesman said they were doing so because of the improving weather and also because it has been established that it is not an illegal practice.