Opinion

Could scaled-down Social Distancing save the licensed trade?

At a time when we’d rightly rather be six feet apart than six feet under we’d also like to imagine how cutting this distance in half would reflect on a pub’s capacity to trade toward a profit.

 

At a time when we’d rightly rather be six feet apart than six feet under we’d also like to imagine how cutting this distance in half would reflect on a pub’s capacity to trade toward a profit.

Denmark, France and Italy recently cut their Social Distancing from two metres to just the one, thanks.

In this Denmark joined the French and the Italians in following the guidance issued by the World Health Organisation as updated on the 29th of April.

This WHO guidance suggests that people “maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and others”.

Although, in a crowded place, one is “more likely to come into close contact with someone that has Covid-19 and it is more difficult to maintain physical distance of 1 metre (3 feet)” the WHO adds.

A number of other EU countries such as Belgium, Germany and Holland (and a few outside the EU) have also cut the two metre to 1.5 metres.

On the flip-side there are those publicans who wouldn’t feel it safe to open their pub under any circumstances until a vaccine is found or Covid-19 has been eliminated from Irish society. They, too, have a valid point – especially if one considers that some respiratory scientists have argued that 20 feet from a sneezing individual is still not enough space to Socially Distance successfully.

What’s not in doubt is that it would be a pretty miraculous publican who could make a living from serving just one-third of his original customer numbers in his premises under the two metre rule.

So many publicans have told us that their business is just not viable under the present Social Distancing guidelines from the HSE whereas a Social Distancing of just one metre would improve prospects immensely – not just for a bar’s  chances for survival but also for ease of movement for its kitchen staff and those behind the bar.

Then consider the toilets where a one metre separation is probably easier to meet if not already the case in most loos. It would also cut down on the numbers of those who’d have to gather to queue.

A reduction from two metres to that WHO-backed one might give the licensed trade the impetus it needs to create that fighting chance.

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