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'There's no way I'm closing': Dublin pubs and restaurants say another closure would cost thousands

Pubs and restaurants have condemned the mixed messaging from the government.

Dublin's pubs and restaurants may soon be closing.
Dublin's pubs and restaurants may soon be closing.
Image: RollingNews.ie

BUSINESSES HAVE REACTED with confusion and concern to the news that the government is set to recommend that pubs and restaurants in Dublin close to curb the spike in Covid-19 cases. 

The government is expected to follow the NPHET recommendation, that comes as part of a wider raft of Level 3 restrictions. 

But owners and managers of restaurants and pubs have questioned the logic of the decision, even as health officials attempt to explain the need to limit the spaces where people congregate and gather. 

Many have said that HSE inspectors praised their efforts when they arrived at their premises, giving them the green light to re-open under new-look, socially distanced arrangements. 

Now, some establishments are saying they will likely have to let staff go for the second time in several months. 

Des Buckley, the managing director of the FX Buckley steakhouses, said it had cost the business €45,000 in lost stock across five restaurants after they closed earlier this year.

“Now they’re asking us to do it again,” he said. 

He also said that it was inevitable, if the outlets had to close, that staff would be laid off. 

“The morale among staff has dropped to the floor,” he said. “We are so depressed by what we’re seeing.”

“It’s like we’re culprits when we’re the opposite.”

In Smithfield, the owner of cafe and restaurant Urbanity is planning how exactly to respond to any enforced closure. In some cases, it will be a return to a system finessed during the first lockdown. 

Jason Mac an Tsionnaigh says that the business will hopefully be returning to a takeaway system, with outdoor seating remaining open. 

He said that he didn’t envisage laying off any of his 12 staff, but it will also depend on how long the restrictions apply for. 

“It’s quite demotivating. The cost is psychological. I was speaking to staff earlier and they’re upset about it,” he said. 

He said he didn’t understand the government’s new plan, which hadn’t added any coherence to the Covid-19 strategy. 

“It seems like we’ve hit the panic button again. I’m deeply frustrated,” he said. 

His premises had also undergone a two-hour inspection by the HSE, which he said had been “helpful”. 

He said that was “no point moaning” about the public health guidelines. 

“It’s appropriate to follow them. I’m more concerned about the confusion and the lack of clarity.”

NO FEE TAOISEACH MIN DONOHOE LAUNCH STAY AND SPEND JB3 The government is likely to face severe anger from restaurant owners and publicans. Source: Julien Behal Photography/RollingNews.ie

‘There’s no way I’m closing’

Ministers are expected to agree that Dublin should move into Level 3 of Covid-19 restrictions when they meet later today. 

NPHET made the recommendation yesterday evening but Cabinet has to sign off on it before it comes into effect. The Cabinet Sub-Committee on coronavirus met this morning and a full meeting is due to get underway this afternoon.

An official announcement is expected late this afternoon or this evening with the measures expected to kick in at midnight. 

Whatever decision the government ends up making, it is set to be controversial as pubs and restaurants prepared for a busy weekend. 

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The Swan Pub on Aungier Street has only been re-opened a week. Owner Ronan Lynch said that after spending “thousands” upgrading the premises, he wasn’t planning on closing. 

He said the approach taken by the government was a “disgrace”. 

“The pubs in Dublin have been smashed by the government,” he said. 

Having already laid off staff, and after bringing three people back for the re-opening, he said that he was running out of options. 

There are still bills to pay, he said. 

Lynch said that, if pubs and restaurants do close, he’ll be offering takeaway pints and serving to people outside. 

“There’s no way I’m closing”, “he said. “I’m staying open.”

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