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Dublin: 22 °C Tuesday 4 August, 2020
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Pubs not opening until Covid-19 vaccine is found would be 'nightmare scenario', publican reps say

All pubs were ordered to shut last month as restrictions were implemented by the government.

Image: Shutterstock/Viiviien

THE LICENSED VINTNERS ASSOCIATION has said the possibility of pubs being unable to reopen until a Covid-19 vaccine is found is a “nightmare scenario” for the sector. 

All pubs across the country were ordered to shut last month as restrictions on public movement were implemented by the government. 

In an interview with the Sunday Independent today, Health Minister Simon Harris said social or physical distancing “will be a reality” until there is a vaccine or effective treatment for Covid-19. 

“That’s likely to be next year,” Harris said. 

“What’s not going to come back quickly are scenarios in which we can’t safely socially distance. So I can’t see how people can be in packed pubs again as long as this virus is still with us and we don’t have a vaccine or an effective treatment,” he said. 

Responding to Harris’ comments, Licenced Vintners Association (LVA) chief executive Donall O’Keeffe said that is “the absolute nightmare scenario for the entire pub sector”. 

If that happens then most pub businesses in this country will be out of business for good.

The LVA is the representative body for publicans in Dublin. 

O’Keeffe said that the LVA has welcomed the “strong government support” for the staff laid off as a result of the crisis. However, he has called for a support system to be put in place if pub closures continue into next year. 

“The LVA and its members will absolutely support whatever measures are deemed necessary in the interests of public health, as we have done from the beginning of this crisis, but if closing pubs until 2021 is going to be necessary then it is essential that a pub-specific support scheme is introduced,” O’Keeffe said.

He claimed if that doesn’t happen “there won’t be a pub industry in this country by the time a vaccine is found”.

Elsewhere in his interview, Harris said he would like to see a situation where schools “could come back or at least could come partially back” as restrictions are lifted. 

“Now I can’t guarantee the timeline for this, but in terms of you’re asking me the hierarchy of things  I’d like to see come back that would be one of them,” Harris said.  

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