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Publicans not happy restaurants given green light to reopen before bars

Two groups that represent pubs say delay in reopening will have a devastating impact on the industry.

Image: Shutterstock/Shane Lopes

THE TWO BODIES that represent publicans have hit out against the government’s roadmap to lifting the restrictions, stating that they are being treated like “second-class citizens”.

The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) and the Licensed Vintners’ Association (LVA) have taken issue with restaurants and cafes getting the green light to open up before pubs can. 

Both groups said  that implementing the social distancing guidelines will be just as challenging for all hospitality businesses and that all should be given the same opportunity to trade.

They have called on the government to explain why they cannot open in the same phase, and have called on the government to work with the industry. 

Restaurants and cafes are earmarked to open in phase three (29 June) while pubs, bars, nightclubs, and casinos are not to open until phase five (10 August). The roadmap plan states that this affects venues where social distancing and strict cleaning can be complied with. 

The LVA and VFI also highlighted that a large proportion of pubs throughout the country already possess restaurant certificates and they fully expect those pubs to reopen at the same time as the restaurants, taking into account that the same public health guidelines will apply.

VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribben called the move a “truly horrendous decision” stating that it will have “cataclysmic implications” for the pub industry in Ireland. 

“Are they saying to publicans ‘we don’t trust you’? It certainly seems that way. It is totally unfair and will cause uproar in the trade,” he said.

“If the Department of Health feel restaurants opening doesn’t impact public health, then surely the same logic applies to pubs. All we’re asking for is equal and fair treatment,” said Cribben.

The decision to keep pubs shut for the foreseeable future while allowing neighbouring restaurants trade will reduce publicans to the status of ‘second-class citizens’, said LVA Chief Executive Donall O’Keeffe. 

When asked about the matter this evening, Health Minister Simon Harris told TheJournal.ie: “Let’s be clear, the name of the industry isn’t the challenge here.”

The challenge is can pubs successfully and safely operate while complying with the physical distance requirements from a public health perspective, he said. 

The minister said the document is very clear, “the government is willing to talk to anybody in any business in terms of having a conversation about what that actually means”. 

He said the publicans and the government should have that conversation in a “respectful” way. 

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