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File photo. Shutterstock/Alexey Andr Tkachenko

Two-thirds of pubs still closed outside Dublin say they'll go out of business by January if current conditions persist

So-called wet pubs don’t expect to be permitted to re-open any time soon.

AROUND TWO-THIRDS (65%) of pubs outside Dublin that are still closed believe they’ll go out of business by January 2021, based on current conditions.

Just over one in five (22%) believe they’ll survive for at least a year according to the survey published this morning by the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI).

The pub trade has said that around 3,500 pubs around the country remain closed due to the current public health guidelines on Covid-19, with the government expected to announce this week if pubs can reopen on 31 August.

However, due to rising cases of the coronavirus, re-opening dates for pubs have already been put back and publicans fear that it could be some time before they’re permitted to re-open.

The pubs that have been permitted to re-open since 29 June must serve a “substantial meal” to customers, and must strictly adhere to guidelines around time limits and social distancing.

According to the VFI survey, which included responses from 1,539 publicans, most in the industry believe that the end of August re-opening date will be delayed for a third time by government. 

The vast majority (95%) say they need grant aid from the government for each week they remain closed for their pub to survive.

Nearly half (48%) say they’ve accrued debts of over €16,000 since the crisis began, while 19% say they’ve built up debts of over €30,000.

A further 82% no longer support the government while 96% believe the government has no plan that will allow non-food pubs to re-open while the crisis persists.

VFI chief executive Padraig Cribben said: “They feel like they have been cast adrift with no support and only shallow declarations of ‘sympathy’. There is little expectation that the government will allow these pubs to reopen next week.

So the question is what are they going to do for these pubs who are being deprived from opening their doors by government order. If they are being asked, as the government has put it, to “make national sacrifice” then the government must have a plan that recognises that sacrifice and allows these businesses to survive.

The issue of pubs re-opening will be discussed at Cabinet and it is expected a decision will be announced before the weekend.

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