The ibec body has launched a new campaign, #OpeningTime, today, supported by the Licensed Vintners Association and the Vintners Federation of Ireland. It is calling on the Government to ensure that ‘wet’ pubs are allowed re-open in a safe and sustainable manner in order to preserve jobs, local economies “and these vital social outlets in the community which have been closed for over six months”.
It’s estimated that 3,500 pubs across Ireland remain closed, 60% of all pubs. And with the Government setting a September the 21st re-opening date for these pubs, the sector cannot afford any further false starts, points out Drinks Ireland.
The new date comes after a number of previous ‘false starts’ which saw pubs and their suppliers gearing-up for a re-opening which never came.
The #OpeningTime campaign is being activated across social media in the coming weeks and highlights how pubs are regulated environments and responsible businesses. It illustrates how pubs play their part in maintaining strict Covid-19 measures as has already been seen in the vast majority of pubs that serve food and which have re-opened.
The campaign also emphasises the huge investment, time and effort that goes into re-opening pubs, from the publicans and also the drinks suppliers that produce and provide product.
Beer and cider in particular cannot be kept in storage for lengthy periods of time as they’ll go off. Brewing is a costly and time-consuming process and suppliers have started to work with publicans to supply product for the re-opening, delivering kegs ahead of September the 21st.
Drinks suppliers will also work with pubs to clean beer lines.
The #OpeningTime campaign highlights how the safe and sustainable re-opening of pubs is important not only for publicans and the drinks industry, but also for Ireland’s economy.
Ireland’s hospitality industry purchases approximately €1 billion from domestic food and drink suppliers every year.
The hospitality sector is vital in providing employment opportunities for young people as well as regional and rural development. It can play a crucial role in the economic recovery from Covid-19 as it did during the recovery from the last economic crisis when it accounted for one in every seven jobs created.
“While managing Covid-19 and people’s health should continue to be a top priority, we must be able to do this in a way that does not decimate an entire industry and allows the economy to function alongside Covid-19,” said Drinks Ireland Director Patricia Callan, who called on the Government to avoid any ‘stop and start’ approach to re-opening pubs, “This would be bad for businesses and also bad for our economy and society.
“As a result of previous ‘false starts’ beer was brewed and delivered, beer lines were cleaned and subsequently breweries had to do a massive keg uplift as the pubs then couldn’t re-open.”
LVA Chief Executive Donall O’Keeffe added, “Pubs that serve food have been given the chance to re-open and are managing the safety of their customers, so it’s important that we don’t see any reversal of the decision to allow the remainder of pubs to re-open.
“It’s time for a safe and sustainable #OpeningTime. Where outbreaks do occur, in pubs or indeed other businesses, they should be managed, as opposed to resulting in any blanket decisions to shut down an industry.”
VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribben agreed, stating, “Pubs are committed to doing their part in facilitating a safe re-opening and have invested heavily in getting ready for September the 21st.
“They should not become political footballs in the coming months as the country learns to live with Covid-19. These businesses are vital from an employment and economic point-of-view and also as a social outlet for people across the country. This is particularly true in rural Ireland.”