7 in 10 Dublin pubs prepared to open with ‘restricted capacities’

Almost seven in 10 Dublin pubs would reopen with restricted capacities, following strict public health and social distancing guidelines, if and when such measures were approved by the Government and the Expert Group, according to a survey by the Licensed Vintners Association.


95% of Dublin publicans expressed satisfaction with their main suppliers during this crisis.

95% of Dublin publicans expressed satisfaction with their main suppliers during this crisis.

 Some 68% of Dublin pubs would prefer to try to reopen under these requirements rather than have to wait additional months until a vaccine is found for normal unrestricted trading. This is despite the clear concerns about the commercial viability of trading with capacity restrictions.

The LVA survey also revealed that six in 10 Dublin pubs believe their business will not survive if they’re asked to stay closed for a period into 2021. And sadly, several pubs indicated they’re already unlikely to reopen after the current crisis.

The LVA issued the survey to over 300 of its members on Monday 20th April 2020, a day after comments by the Minister for Health Simon Harris appeared in a Sunday newspaper where the Minister suggested that pubs may not fully reopen until after a vaccine is found and that this may not happen in 2020.

Some 76% of LVA respondents stated that they’d not support a scenario where restaurants were allowed to re-open while pubs must remain closed.

However three out of four respondents also expressed their satisfaction with the Government handling of the crisis to date.


Publicans’ crisis satisfaction rating with various sectors

Dublin pubs also expressed their levels of satisfaction with how the various sectors they interact with have acted during the crisis.

So far, almost three out of four Dublin pubs are satisfied with how the banks have acted while a massive 95% expressed satisfaction with their main suppliers.

However, the opposite was true for insurers: 50% of Dublin pubs stated that they’re ‘appalled’ by the insurance sector’s behaviour and a further 33% stated that they’re ‘dissatisfied’ with the insurance sector’s response.


Greatest concerns

A question asking Dublin publicans about their greatest concerns found that the health and wellbeing of publicans, their staff and their customers was the most common response listed followed by the uncertainty around when they may be able to re-open and the future viability of their business.

The pubs were also asked to comment on what support they’d need in order to re-open, with the vast majority believing they’d need Government support on measures like rates, excise and taxation as well as further assistance from the banking sector.

“What this survey makes clear is that there’s a strong feeling amongst Dublin publicans that all food providers should be treated the same,” said LVA Chief Executive Donall O’Keeffe, speaking about the survey results, “More than three out of four pubs are against the suggestion that restaurants could reopen while pubs remain shut.

“Most Dublin pubs have restaurant licenses and believe they’ll be able to implement the same approach to the guidelines as adopted by the wider food service sector,” he continued, “They would also be deeply opposed to a scenario where restaurants were permitted to re-open but pubs who serve food had to stay shut. That would be discriminatory and we’re already starting to see a massive outcry across the Irish pub sector about different rules potentially being applied to restaurants and pubs.

“The survey also shows that when the Government and the Expert Group give the go-ahead most Dublin pubs would like to re-open on a restricted basis with stringent public health and social distancing requirements in place. Pubs across Ireland are deeply conscious of the need to protect the public health and will abide by any guidelines that are put in place by the Government.

“We acknowledge that the restricted trading could be challenging. Any restricted opening along these lines will involve a significantly reduced capacity and a dramatic change to the pub experience as we know it. However if this can be implemented in other hospitality businesses then Dublin publicans can adopt a similar approach and want to have that option.

“A really startling statistic to emerge from the survey was that as many as six out of 10 Dublin pubs believe they’ll go out of business if the closure period is extended into 2021. We were also massively concerned to see some Dublin pubs indicate it’s already too late for them and they will never recover. That’s a sad and scary prospect for the entire pub sector operating in Ireland.

“Since this crisis began, we’ve been speaking broadly about the effect this pandemic is having on the pub sector. This survey captures the reality in stark terms. From the outset of this crisis pubs have supported the public health measures which were introduced but we can’t ignore the human and economic impact this is having on the licensed trade.

“With insurance companies putting forward excuse after excuse and acting in bad faith when it comes to honouring policies, we are continuing to press the Government and the Central Bank to hold them to account. So far all we’ve had is lip-service from some of the insurance companies.

“Dublin publicans are fully aware of the gravity of this crisis and the many different aspects of society being impacted by this pandemic. Our members have been strongly supportive of the Government response to date. However, as this survey shows, the pub sector is also facing up to the massive economic implications of this crisis and further substantial Government support of the businesses themselves will be needed if we are to come through it,” he concluded.


LVA Survey – questions & responses:

Q: Pubs will only be re-opened on the direction of the Expert Group and the Minister for Health based on public health advice. It now appears that pubs will be one of the last business sectors to re-open and could potentially be closed for a very extended period. However there are two potential scenarios which could emerge. Which of these two options would be your preference?


  • 68% – Restricted opening with low capacity limits and strict public health guidelines and social distancing required, food-oriented business but possibly available sooner than the full reopening scenario
  • 32% – Normal, unrestricted trading but delayed by several/many additional months compared to the restricted scenario.


Q:  Would you support a scenario where restaurants are allowed to re-open but pubs must stay shut due to public health concerns?


  • 76% – No
  • 24% – Yes.


Q:  Will your business survive if you’re asked to close for a period into 2021?


  • 60% – No
  • 40% – Yes.


Q: What is your level of satisfaction with the insurers to date?


  • 50% – Appalled
  • 33% – Dissatisfied
  • 16% – Moderately satisfied
  • 1% – Very satisfied.


Q: What is your level of satisfaction with the banks to date?


  • 55% – Moderately satisfied
  • 19% – Very satisfied
  • 17% – Dissatisfied
  • 9% – Appalled.


Q: What is your level of satisfaction with the main suppliers to date?


  • 60% – Very satisfied
  • 35% – Moderately satisfied
  • 5% – Dissatisfied
  • 0% – Appalled.



Q: Are you satisfied with how the Government has been handling this crisis to date?


  • 75% – Yes
  • 25% – No.



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