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Decision to delay pubs reopening will be met with 'fury and despair', publican reps say

Today’s decision based on advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) comes after an increase in cases over recent weeks.

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BODIES REPRESENTING PUBS in Ireland have said the Government’s decision to postpone their reopening again will be met with “fury and despair” from the industry. 

Cabinet this evening decided against allowing pubs that don’t serve food to reopen on 10 August, delaying their reopening for a second time.

Hotel bars, nightclubs and casinos will also remain closed; this will be reviewed again on 31 August. 

In a statement this evening, the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) and the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) said the Government has “abandoned” 3,500 pubs across Ireland following the decision. 

“The majority of pubs across Ireland are still closed and they will now have to keep their doors shut for a minimum of 168 days, which represents 46% of a year,” the LVA and VFI said in a joint statement. 

The groups said the sympathy being expressed by Government “will not save pub businesses or jobs”.

Both bodies called for the immediate introduction of a “meaningful support package” for the pubs in light of this latest development as pubs who are closed will not benefit from the stimulus package announced in July, they said. 

“This is Groundhog Day for the trade as twice now the reopening of pubs has been postponed,” said VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribben.

“The new Government’s decision has caused grave alarm within the trade as publicans face an extremely uncertain future with little to feel optimistic about. Make no mistake, this is a full-blown crisis for the trade as over 3,500 pubs must now remain shut,” he said. 

Cribben said pubs have been denied the ability to trade and that as a result the Government “will have to provide substantial supports to our members, many of whom are deeply agitated at what they feel is the State abandoning a vital part of the hospitality sector.”

Said Donall O’Keeffe, Chief Executive of the LVA: “This decision will be met with both fury and despair across the entire sector. It is creating intolerable pressure on those pubs still closed, their 25,000 staff, suppliers to the industry and all their families.

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“The Government can’t keep stringing the entire sector along like this. Where is their plan? Where are their supports for the industry? The pubs that are closed or their staff certainly won’t benefit from the July stimulus if they have to stay closed and the future viability of these businesses is in doubt,” said O’Keeffe. 

“There is only so much an industry can take,” he added. 

Today’s decision based on advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) comes after an increase in cases of Covid-19 over recent weeks. 

Some pubs that serve food were allowed to open on 29 June as part of Phase 3. With the requirement to have a substantial meal during a limited time period at these pubs, public health experts viewed them as restaurants for the purposes of how the virus spreads.

“I know this will come as a bitter disappointment to many people… I know this will come as a blow to pub owners,” Taoiseach Micheál Martin said of today’s decision, adding that Ireland’s number of cases per 100,000 had tripled between July and August (from 2.5 to 7.5).

“International evidence shows very clearly that pubs and nightclubs reopening too early leads directly to an increase in community transmission,” Martin said.

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