This will come as a “major relief” to the pub sector across the country, stated the two organisations.
Also welcomed was the commitment by the Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan that the National Public Health Emergency Team will develop guidance for the hospitality sector in the coming days and that a review of the two-metre Social Distancing requirement is being undertaken by Secretaries General across different Government Departments.
“This is a welcome shot in the arm for publicans who’ll have been closed for more than four months by the time they re-open on 20th July,” commented VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribben, “Pubs were the first sector to close on 15th March, a decision our members supported for the good of public health.
“Moving the re-opening of pubs to July means publicans can avail of an extra three weeks trading, something that’s particularly relevant as it extends the Summer season. While the Government’s announcement will come as a major relief to the trade, it shouldn’t mask the precarious future faced by pubs. Altering Social Distancing guidelines to one metre remains a priority as this would give publicans some chance of running a viable business until a time when Social Distancing rules no longer apply.”
LVA Chief Executive Donall O’Keeffe added, “After a prolonged period of uncertainty pubs who serve food are relieved to finally receive the green light from Government that they can definitely re-open along with restaurants on 29th June.
“We were consistent in advocating for pubs to receive the same treatment as other hospitality businesses that serve food and drink so we’re pleased that the Government has taken this on board in the adjusted re-opening roadmap.
“Attention throughout the sector will now switch to what guidelines will be in place for the re-opening. Pubs will need time to adapt their premises to address the guidance so we are eagerly awaiting the advice to come from NPHET.
“As our recent capacity report showed, utilising the World Health Organisation (WHO) Social Distancing guidance of one metre will make a substantial difference to business viability and we hope that will be addressed in the hospitality sector guidance.
“Pubs will adapt and while it may take time for our valued customers to become accustomed to this new reality it’s important to remember this won’t be forever and a strong and vibrant trade will emerge at the end of this crisis,” he concluded.
The two-metre Social Distancing precautions and managing the next stage of the response to the Coronavirus were described as a “balance of risk” on Newstalk’s Breakfast with Susan Keogh last week.
Dr Gabriel Fitzpatrick, Medical Director of Trinity Clinics, said, “Most likely over the next six months we’ll see that distance reduced. “You have a greater than 90% chance of not catching something if you stay two metres away from somebody.
“If you go drop it one metre it drops to around 75% to 80% reduced risk of catching something.
“However, it goes back to the basic point of balancing controlling the virus with living our lives.”