Despite a given opening date now just 11 days away, these pubs still don’t know how they’ll need to adapt their businesses to ensure compliance with public health requirements.
This delay is causing anxiety in some rural communities, says the VFI, with many as yet unopened pubs serving as the only gathering locations or hospitality venues in their area.
The VFI believes that the majority of rural pubs are yet to open, particularly along the Western Seaboard. The county with the largest number of still unopened pubs is Cork at 473 followed by Galway with 273, Tipperary (223), Kerry (221), Mayo (Mayo 218) and Donegal (180) follow.
“After placing public health first by agreeing to close our business over 120 days ago, we’re now crying out for the guidelines that will allow us re-open,” says Mayo publican Marie Mellett, owner of Mellett’s Bar in Swinford who says that the lack of guidelines is hampering preparations for re-opening.
“It’s a simple question” she says, ‘where are the guidelines?’.
“We’re literally just days away from July 20th but there’s nothing from government.
“For most rural pubs the bar counter is where all the action is, but we don’t even know if bar stools will be allowed. If they’re not, the impact on small pubs will be massive as many of our customers will only sit at the bar.”
Galway publican Joe Sheridan owns Walsh’s Bar in Dunmore. He explains that he and his staff remain in limbo until the re-opening guidelines are published.
“I’m completely in the dark about how we should prepare the pub for re-opening,” he says. “The guidelines are critically important for publicans who urgently need information about what work needs to be completed before we open.
“I also have staff wanting to know if they will be going back to work. The current situation is ludicrous and completely unfair to thousands of bar staff around the country and the local communities they serve. For most rural areas, the pub is far more than a place to have a drink, it’s where local communities come together. This delay is placing so much of our local life in jeopardy and leaves many villages without lights.”
For Vivian Walsh, owner of The Old Grainstore in Westport, Mayo, the absence of guidelines is a major worry as he continues to refurbish his pub ahead of re-opening.
“We’re making a substantial investment in our business by renovating the outside area to increase capacity, which is happening effectively in a vacuum as we don’t know what the guidelines will state. With just over a week to opening, to find ourselves in this situation is simply incredible.”
The VFI has published the full list of pubs yet to open by county: