Publicans in Dublin react angrily to further delay in reopening of drink-only pubs

Licensed Vintners Association says pubs are paying the price for Government shortfalls

Publicans in Dublin have reacted angrily to the news they will have to further delay reopening their drink-only establishments. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Publicans in Dublin have reacted angrily to the news they will have to further delay reopening their drink-only establishments. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

Publicans in Dublin have reacted angrily to the news they will have to further delay reopening their drink-only establishments while such pubs in every other county will be allowed to resume trading from next Monday.

The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA), which represents the pub trade in the capital, described the Government’s decision to refuse to allow pubs in Dublin that are not serving food to reopen on September 21st as an “empty gesture, backed by hollow words”.

“Current Covid numbers in Dublin are very worrying and the Government today has decided to introduce additional measures [for the capital],” Taoiseach Micheál Martin said on Tuesday as the Government published its medium-term coronavirus plan Living with Covid.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the incidence of Covid-19 had increased tenfold in Dublin in the past month, adding that unless there were preventative measures taken there would be “a second wave of hospital admissions, ICU admissions and possible deaths”.

Tuesday’s announcement marked the fourth time that the reopening of non-food pubs in Dublin has been delayed, following earlier proposed dates for reopening on July 20th, August 10th and August 31st.

The LVA said that just more than a week ago – two weeks before all drink-only pubs were supposed to be allowed reopen – the Government had insisted it had no plans to single out non-food pubs from other businesses.

“Yet seven days later, the Government has ignored that commitment and has set out separate treatment for non-food pubs in Dublin, who must remain closed despite the capital being kept at Level 2 in the Government’s new medium-term strategy,” the LVA’s chief executive, Donall O’Keeffe, said.

‘Unfair and unjustified’

Mr O’Keeffe argued that pubs that did not serve food had played “no part in the rising level of infection in Dublin, yet pubs were the only businesses singled out in the ‘guidance’ provided by NPHET last week”.

“This arbitrary separation of wet pubs from pubs serving food is completely unfair and unjustified,” he said.

“It is an empty gesture that will make zero impact on reducing the level of infection we are currently experiencing in Dublin. An empty gesture backed by hollow words from a Government that broke its commitment to non-food pubs again.”

He questioned how people could put “any faith in a Government that just ignores its own commitments” and questioned the “scientific justification for this decision”.

He said that the latest restrictions had “all the hallmarks of wanting to be seen to take action when in reality it does nothing to address the current problem”, and he concluded by saying pubs were now “paying the price for the repeated shortfalls in the Government’s capacity to handle this crisis”.

Sports roadmap

Meanwhile, the GAA and the IRFU have set up a working group to draw up a roadmap for the safe return of spectators to live matches after it was confirmed that restrictions on crowd numbers will be loosened for the first time since all sports went behind closed doors on August 18th.

Under the new rules, up to 200 people will be allowed into outdoor stadiums, as long as they have a minimum capacity of 5,000.

The working group, which will also include representatives of Sport Ireland, will be chaired by Martin Murphy of the Aviva Stadium and will seek to develop a common set of guidelines and protocols for the safe delivery of major sporting events.