So believes the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland which has called for a “re-opening roadmap” for the 3,500 pubs that remain closed to bring certainty to publicans and comfort to local communities as the lockdown of pubs – ‘community hubs’ – severely impacts rural towns and villages.
The call came as the Dáil returned today and debated the proposed legislation to empower Gardaí to close any pubs not complying with public health guidelines.
The DIGI also welcomed comments from the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee this morning with regard to the legislation which would ‘pave the way for wet pubs to re-open’ and looked forward to that pathway being defined.
According to the DIGI, a debate centred on re-opening the country’s remaining 3,500 pubs needs to happen in tandem and with the urgent prioritisation for a roadmap for the re-opening.
The Group is also calling for a reduction in excise tax in Budget 2021. Data shows that Irish pubs and bars have endured the longest lockdown in the EU.
60% of Ireland’s pubs and bars have been closed for almost six months, it stated, “That is 3,500 pubs who are businesses and in the majority of cases, the main employer in our towns, villages and rural communities. Pubs are the main source of income for families, our young people and as many as 90,000 people directly employed by the drinks industry. They are community hubs that provide a place to socialise and for people to gather and meet in local communities – the continued lockdown is severely impacting on community life, further exasperating the effects of the necessary Covid-19 lockdown since March.
“As our leaders meet today, we urge them to put the re-opening of pubs firmly on their agenda and to provide some certainty to allow these businesses to plan, both financially for the future of the business and personally – business owners have bills to pay and family commitments to meet. And to provide some comfort to local communities to assure them normality will resume. The alternative is devastated communities and job losses as businesses will fold.
“The €16 million package announced last Friday is short-sighted,” it continued, “When you deduct the allowance for licence renewals (up to €9.6 million) and the waiving of associated court fees and excise duties, €6.4 million remains for the 3,500 closed pubs. On average, this equates to a little over €1,800 for closed pubs or €300 for each of the six months they have been closed. As one of Ireland’s strongest domestic industries and largest employers, this support is unjust.”
The DIGI, which represents over 14,000 drinks and hospitality businesses, has called for a 15% reduction in excise tax on alcohol in Budget 2021.