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Pub reopening guidelines will be issued 'shortly', says Taoiseach as he meets protesting publicans

‘We do want to open up other sectors of the economy, including pubs,’ said the Taoiseach.

Publicans say they have had to borrow money from relatives in order to survive.
Publicans say they have had to borrow money from relatives in order to survive.
Image: RollingNews.ie

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said ‘wet pubs’ will receive guidelines around how to reopen “shortly.” 

However, despite speculation that there is a push in government to get pubs back open in October, the Taoiseach said he would not give a specific timeline on reopening dates.

Since 29 June, pubs that serve food have been permitted to re-open under strict guidelines, but other pubs have had to remain shut.

The Taoiseach also held an impromptu meeting with a group of Co Monaghan publicans who had come to Dublin to launch a billboard campaign calling for the reopening of pubs that do not serve food.

The group – Monaghan Publicans for Common Sense – wants to highlight the fact that pubs remain closed in Ireland when they are open in the rest of Europe – something the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has mentioned numerous times this week.

“We do want to open up other sectors of the economy, including pubs,” said the Taoiseach.

“At the moment guidance is being worked on with the public health authorities in relation to conditions that would apply in the event of pubs reopening.

“We understand genuinely the enormous disappointment among publicans across the country,” he added.

The Taoiseach said a new Covid roadmap for reopening the country will be published in mid-September and will be all-encompassing. He said the new framework which will tackle not just pubs but sports, travel and other factors.

He said the framework will include “conditions”.

It is understood the guidelines being drafted for the safe reopening of all pubs will be along the same lines as those already published for pubs that serve food – however, customers will no longer have to buy a €9 meal in order to buy alcohol.

Speaking to reporters after their meeting with the Taoiseach the Monaghan publicans said Martin listened to their concerns about how their pubs were “on their knees”.

However, no firm date was given to the men about when they can expect to reopen their doors.

“He listened to us and he engaged with us and he knows now what we need,” said one publican Brian Renaghan.

He said he has a family and young kids. “It is very, very difficult,” he said. 

Renaghan said the pub was passed onto him from his parents.

“You don’t want to see something your parents built up just completely go,” he said.

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The publicans said they made the point to Martin that they feel they are not being trusted to reopen. The men made the point that when the smoking ban was introduced they enforced the rules.

They also made the point to the Taoiseach that publicans need time to get organised and order stock in, and asked for adequate notice to be given to publicans.

“I live along the border and I can see my customers going across the border and drinking in the pubs, so if it is safe enough for them to drink there, why is it not safe for them to drink in my pub – what’s the difference?” asked Renaghan

They acknowledged that there will be restrictions on their businesses when they are allowed to reopen, stating that they would even be able to live with any opening hour restrictions if it meant they could open their doors.

Another publican Noel McNally said he is “broke” and has had to borrow money from family to keep afloat.

“I’ve had to ask family members for money – it’s not nice,” said McNally

He said many pubs will not survive into next year.

Drinks Industry Ireland – an umbrella group representing pubs, restaurants, hotels, brewers and others – said there is a “growing fear” among publicans that their businesses will remain closed until 2021.

Recent analysis from DII said that 60% of pubs still remain closed, and it is feared some may never reopen.

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