Government says no truth to social media rumours about pubs re-opening

Tánaiste denies meeting vintners last week and warns of unreliable Whatsapp claims

The Government has denied reports circulating on social media that Tánaiste Simon Coveney has met with vintners and told them there will be a phased re-opening of pubs.

A spokesman for Mr Coveney said the report, which was circulating on WhatsApp groups throughout Munster, was totally false and there was no truth at all to the suggestion that pubs were set to re-open on a phased basis.

The spokesman said Mr Coveney had not met vintners in the past week and the Government was trying to establish how the story had started or where it had originated.

He said the public health advice issued last Friday by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that the Covid-19 restrictions would remain in place until May 5th at least remains the government's position. Mr Varadkar thanked the Irish people for their forbearance in the effort to stop the spread of Covid-19.


“People are wondering when life will get back to normal. We are working toward that, planning carefully, so we get there safely. No one knows for certain when that will be . . . all we can do is take one day at a time,” The Taoiseach said.

Mr Coveney’s spokesman said the only place to get reliable news regarding the Covid-19 restrictions was from the National Public Health Emergency Team and the established media, not from Whatsapp groups.

The closure order, which came into effect on March 15th, has led to thousands of bar staff being laid off with many vintners saying that it has put them under pressure in terms of meeting rent and other payments.

The enforced closure prompted the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) to ask landlords to meet their tenants and come to a mutually acceptable agreement about rent payments during the shutdown.

VFI chief executive Padraig Cribben said the shutdown was putting huge pressure on many of the State's 7,000 publicans, who do not own their own premises but are renting them from landlords who are still seeking rent.

“Since the enforced shutdown we have worked with the banks, TV subscription services, drink suppliers and other suppliers to come to an agreement about forbearance and payment suspension for the coming months.”

Mr Cribben said the clear majority of banks, TV service providers and drink suppliers have agreed to work with publicans and suspend payment for the coming months while the lockdown remains in place.

“We need landlords to exercise the same understanding because there is little point in demanding money that isn’t there. We need to work together to get through the current crisis,” he said.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times