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Thursday 7 December 2023 Dublin: 10°C

Publicans say government and NPHET 'determined to close down sector'

It is reported the government is looking at plans that would only allow pubs with a kitchen and a chef onsite to open.

PUBLICANS HAVE CALLED on the government to abandon a reported proposal to limit re-opening next month to premises that have an onsite kitchen and a chef.

The Irish Independent reports new rules to ease the country out of Level 5 restrictions would only allow restaurants and genuine gastro-pubs to open their doors to customers in the coming weeks. 

Speaking to RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne, Padraig Cribben, chief executive of the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) accused the government and public health officials of penalising publicans without evidence of widespread transmission linked to these settings in Ireland.

“There is what I would have called a bias but I’m now beginning to believe is a vindictiveness in NPHET towards pubs,” he said.

“They obviously made their decision not today, but three weeks ago and I quote from the CMO back on the 9th of November, where he said then, halfway through the lockdown, that he didn’t anticipate giving government advice that would allow families to gather in their local pub for a Christmas drink. So, we know that is there.

We also know that the Taoiseach has called for personal responsibility, but what he’s actually saying is: We trust you if you’re a restaurant or if you’re going for food, but we won’t trust you, if you’re going to a pub that doesn’t serve food. And we believe that that’s an extraordinary attack on the sector, which it looks like the government and NPHET are determined to close down.

He said there are villages and towns that will be “bereft of any opportunity to socialise” in a bar at Christmas if the government only allows pubs with a kitchen and chef to re-open.

Ronan Lynch owner of the Swan Bar in Dublin said it would be “alarming” if these strict rules were applied to the re-opening of pubs in December.

Before the pandemic his pub did not serve food and does not have a kitchen on the premises. After the government announced the €9 meal rule, he teamed up with a nearby business, the Dublin Pizza Company, and began serving food to customers so he could re-open.

“They came in, they supplied the pizzas into us, we had our controlled setting, everything was set up, everybody was spaced two meters apart we had invested in getting everything settled, and we operated successfully for 41 days before everybody was closed up,” he said.

He said publicans who adapted their businesses so they could re-open after the first lockdown “feel completely let down by government”.

Lynch said if the government doesn’t offer a workable solution for publicans for December they may be faced with protests.

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