‘Only a civil servant’ could have come up with ‘unenforceable’ pub regulations

Majority of pubs in Cork have opted not to re-open until July 20th

Clancy’s Bar, Cork City has introduced temperature checks, private snugs and a roof garden. Pictured, Zaida Reyes  cleaning glass in one of the snugs. Photograph: Clare Keogh

Clancy’s Bar, Cork City has introduced temperature checks, private snugs and a roof garden. Pictured, Zaida Reyes cleaning glass in one of the snugs. Photograph: Clare Keogh

 

A publican in Cork has said he is not re-opening under Covid-19 restrictions because they would turn his bar “into a crime scene” and believes he would alienate customers.

Con Dennehy, who owns the Venue in Ballintemple, is one of the 60 per cent of Cork publicans who opted not to re-open until July 20th, saying that he didn’t believe the current regulations where customers must book a slot and have a meal were particularly practical.

“No, I haven’t reopened -I didn’t want to turn the bar into a crime scene with tape and screens everywhere and I didn’t want to alienate people I know and respect by telling them that they have to leave after 90 minutes or 105 minutes,” he told The Irish Times.

“To my mind, it’s only civil servants who could have made up these regulations because they are totally impractical and totally unenforceable - I’d rather stay closed until September if needs be to open properly for my locals and not end up alienating them with these regulations.”

Mr Dennehy said that he expects to open on July 20th and when he does, he trusts his customers to be responsible regarding social distance and keeping one metre apart of their own volition, rather than he or his staff having to go around and asking people to keep apart.

“Who is going to police social distancing? The gardaí hardly want to get involved in it, that’s a HSE job and do they have the personnel to police it? I think people should look after their own interest and do the sensible thing and keep their distance without having to be told.

“If any fellow is iffy about going into a pub, he shouldn’t go in - I saw fellows coming in March before we closed down and they were taking their pint off the counter and stepping back and they were keeping their own social distance, they didn’t have to be asked so it was working back then.”

‘Very co-operative’

The majority of pubs in Cork have opted not to re-open until July 20th but those that have re-opened and are serving food in line with Government guidelines are generally expressing satisfaction with business, according to the Chair of the Cork Vintners Federation of Ireland, Michael O’Donovan.

Mr O’Donovan said that approximately 40 per cent of the 208 pubs in the city and suburbs re-opened last Monday, serving substantial meals to customers who have to make a booking at the pub and generally it seemed to be working out reasonably well.

“A few bars had some teething problems with people coming in and asking for a drink and the bar staff or management having to explain to them that they are really operating as a restaurant and they have to have food and they then can have a drink to accompany it.”

Mr O’Donovan said the majority of customers have been very co-operative even though some of the bars are finding the 105-minute limit too restrictive, particularly when they are serving customers a three course meal which is being made to order in the pub.

He said there did not appear to be any major problem with people turning up without bookings even though individual pubs operated different systems with some pubs having set times that people can book while others are allowing the customers to choose a time and then booking a slot at that time.

“All the bars have people at the door particularly in the evening so when people come to the door if they have capacity, they take them but if they are full they are moving on - what is noticeable that people are having multiple bookings, some in the same venue or some in other venues.”

He said that all bars are operating social distancing and most people are being very co-operative even though he has heard of one or two cases where people have tried to pull tables together but once management explained that this wasn’t allowed, they accepted it.

Mr O’Donovan, who runs the Castle Inn on South Main Street in the heart of Cork city, said that he would be waiting until July 20th as he does not serve food in the bar and like many of the 60pc of bars who have opted to wait until July 20th, he does not have a booking service.

“We will have capacity for 28 people with one metre social distancing when we re-open on July 20th but if the Government introduce a booking system on July 20th, a lot of bars will remain close because they don’t have a booking engine.”