Guidelines for pubs to reopen on August 10th need to be issued this week, say vintners

Publicans tell Martin of anger at short notice of decision not to reopen pubs on July 20th

The VHI said house parties and “shebeen” drinking were a much higher Covid-19 risk, pointing out that there have been no cases of Covid-19 tracked back to any of the food-serving pubs that opened three weeks ago

The VHI said house parties and “shebeen” drinking were a much higher Covid-19 risk, pointing out that there have been no cases of Covid-19 tracked back to any of the food-serving pubs that opened three weeks ago

 

Publicans must this week be given the Covid-19 guidelines they will be expected to follow next month if all of the State’s pubs are cleared to reopen, they have told Taoiseach Micheál Martin.

During a meeting with the Vintners Federation of Ireland last Friday, Mr Martin was told that publicans feel “slighted”, “poorly treated” and “annoyed” following this month’s decision to delay reopening.

However, Fáilte Ireland guidelines which were expected by some on Wednesday have been delayed because publicans now demand that customers are able to sit at the bar.

The late notification to pubs that they would not be allowed to reopen on July 20th has caused major grievance, with pubs complaining that they had bought stock and brought back staff.

“Most of the pubs that are still closed are outside the five main urban areas, and are family-owned, family-run businesses where proper procedures will be put in place,” the VFI told the Taoiseach.

Pubs must be told quickly if they can reopen and how, they added, saying that it was “a totally unacceptable situation” if they were yet forced to go down to a deadline wire without being sure of the road ahead.

The VHI said house parties and “shebeen” drinking were a much higher Covid-19 risk, pointing out that there have been no cases of Covid-19 tracked back to any of the food-serving pubs that opened three weeks ago.

Making it “crystal clear” that quick decisions were needed, the vintners’ group accepted that there was “no agenda” within the Government “to keep pubs closed, but there is a fear of second waves” .

Yet the delay in the guidelines is down to the VFI, not the Government. “It was us who actually asked that the guidelines not be issued because there was one item that we were concerned with,” it said. “We asked that both the Department of Health and others would reconsider and this involves the use of the bar counter in pubs.”

Not reopening

Meanwhile, the Licensed Vintners’ Association (LVA) has said Covid-19 will cost at least 2,500 permanent jobs in Dublin pubs, and has already closed 10 of them. It predicted a third of all pubs in the capital could go.

Three Dublin pubs have publicly announced that they will not be reopening – the Queens in Dalkey, The Donaghmede Inn in Donaghmede, and The Cardiff Inn, Finglas.

LVA chief executive Donall O’Keeffe said seven others have privately said that they are finished, adding that the pubs that do reopen will have to operate at 50 per cent capacity or less.

He said Covid-19 has been the “straw that broke the camel’s back” since many pubs in the capital were already struggling with high rents. Rural pubs could be even worse off.

LVA president Ronan Hughes, who owns the Swan pub in Aungier Street, said publicans were in “very pessimistic mood”. City-centre pubs were struggling badly, while those in the suburbs “seem to be doing a bit better”.