Publicans accuse Government of using misleading data to keep them closed

Industry calls for bars that do not sell food to be allowed open alongside gastropubs

The Licensed Vintners Association said the approach  being adopted by Government is shameful.

The Licensed Vintners Association said the approach being adopted by Government is shameful.


Publicans have accused the Government of using misleading data to prevent wet pubs from opening on Friday, alongside their industry counterparts which serve food.

The Licensed Vintners Association which largely represents publicans in Dublin and the Vintners Federation of Ireland jointly highlighted 14 “flaws” and what they termed incomplete considerations which they claim was included in a study from consultants EY.

The study published by Government last weekend showed counties where wet pubs reopened at the end of September experienced an increase in the 14-day incidence rate of Covid-19 ten days later.

The survey claimed this level of increase was not seen to the same extent in Dublin, where wet pubs remained closed.

Now the publicans have dismissed the study and called on the Government to change its mind on the issue.

In particular, the publicans claim there is no evidence to suggest wet pubs pose a greater risk than outlets serving food.

They say the EY report deliberately highlights wet pubs when the evidence was just as relevant to the reopening of universities and specific sporting events.

They say it does not account for Dublin being placed in Level 3+ long before the rest of the country.

The publicans also say the study offered no comparison or evidence on the rate of infection risk in wet pubs, compared with outlets serving food. They said opening wet pubs outside Dublin coincided with the reopening of sporting fixtures.

“It is absolutely astounding that Government is using a flimsy, misleading document to keep the wet pubs closed,” said VFI chief executive Padraig Cribben. “How any serious decision maker could use this deeply inadequate report as a rationale for decimating half the industry tells us a lot about the levels of consideration shown by this Government towards the pubs of Ireland,” he said.

Donall O’Keeffe, chief executive of the LVA said “when you consider the impact this is having on tens of thousands of people working in pubs across Ireland, the people who supply those pubs and all the various families involved it is a shameful approach that is being adopted by Government.

Given the obvious defects in their report, the Government must now reverse their decision and allow the wet pubs to reopen at the same time as the rest of the hospitality sector. Any other decision will rightly be regarded as malice towards the wet pubs,” Mr O’Keeffe said.

Confirming wet pubs would remain closed when he announced the country was moving out of Level 5 restrictions last Friday the Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “Unfortunately, nothing in the research available to Government supports any further reopening of so-called ‘wet pubs’ at this stage. I know how deeply frustrating this will be for business owners in this sector. I fully accept their goodwill about respecting guidelines - but the reality is that reopening indoor hospitality carries risks and there is only so far we can safely go.

“I want to reassure them that additional supports, over and above what is currently in place, will be made available to owners to help them into the new year and prepare for their eventual reopening”.