No live music, no standing at the bar: Publicans lay out plans for opening up before August

Blueprint would see table service only with a limit on customers and a ban on live music

Pubs will offer table service only under proposals by the licenced trade to open their premises before the proposed date of August 10th.

Both the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI), which represents publicans outside Dublin, and the Licenced Vintners Federation (LVI) have put forward measures which they believe should allow them to open along with restaurants and cafes at the end of June rather than in August.

Nobody will be allowed to sit, stand or order at the bar. Numbers on the premises will be confined to no more than four per every 10 square metres and a maximum of six people will be permitted at any one table.

Customers will be required to use hand sanitiser upon entry. Staff will be asked to maintain a safe distance from customers when taking orders and to wash their hands thoroughly every 30 minutes.

Outside spaces will be utilised to enhance social distancing and there may be limits on how many can use toilets at any one time.

There will be no live music or DJs and gardaí or the HSE will have the power to close any business who is flouting the public health guidelines.

Currently the Government has proposed that pubs should open in the fifth and last phase of the lifting of lockdown restrictions. The fifth phase is due to start on August 10th.

The Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys indicated at the weekend that pubs could open sooner than scheduled if the virus is kept under control.

The representative bodies has called on the Government to allow pubs to open at the same time as restaurants and cafes on June 29th, six weeks earlier than proposed.

LVA chief executive Donall O’Keeffe said the pub experience will “change dramatically” for customers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He suggested the Government appeared to be implementing one rule for restaurants and another for pubs.

He added: “We have repeatedly proven this commitment, not least in the fact that our sector was the first to close across the country. We also believe that if other venues who serve food and alcohol are allowed to reopen in Phase 3, then pubs should be granted the same opportunity to trade.

“We don’t believe it is in any way appropriate that the Government should apply one rule for some hospitality businesses and another rule for others.”

VFI chief executive Padraig Cribben said the proposed lifting of restrictions at present "isn't tenable and will lead to confusion in the hospitality sector if it is not addressed".

He emphasised that the public health restrictions, which will see social distancing continue to be observed even after pubs and restaurants are opened, will “present real challenges” to the hospitality sector.

“ There is no denying that and there is no getting around it. Addressing those public health requirements will be necessary for all hospitality businesses whenever they reopen,” he added.

“Pubs across Ireland are up to that challenge and will do what is required for maintaining a safe and healthy place of business.”

The Minister for Health Simon Harris and Ms Humphreys has agreed to organise a meeting with the VFI and the LVA representative bodies this week.