Describing the Government’s decision to further delay the re-opening of pubs in Dublin as an “empty gesture, backed by hollow words from a Government that broke its commitment to non-food pubs again” the LVA has pointed out that those pubs not serving food played no part in the rising level of infection in Dublin, yet pubs were the only businesses singled out in the ‘guidance’ provided by NPHET last week.
Only a week ago the Government had committed to not singling out non-food pubs from other businesses, stating that if there were any regional restrictions it would affect other businesses and not solely pubs, pointed out the Association.
“Yet seven days later the Government has ignored that commitment and has set out separate treatment for non-food pubs in Dublin who must remain closed despite the capital being kept at Level 2 in the Government’s new Medium Term strategy,” it stated.
This latest blow to the pub sector in Dublin comes exactly six months after pubs across the country closed their doors by order of the Government on the 15th of March at the beginning of the crisis, the first sector in the country to close.
This, the fourth time the re-opening of non-food pubs in Dublin has been delayed following the false starts of the 20th of July, the10th of August and the 31st of August, is likely to lead to a number of wet houses in Dublin defaulting on their mortgage with the banks’ six-month moratorium due to close at the end of this month.
“This arbitrary separation of wet pubs from pubs serving food is completely unfair and unjustified,” claimed LVA Chief Executive Donall O’Keeffe, “It’s an empty gesture that will make zero impact on reducing the level of infection we’re currently experiencing in Dublin. An empty gesture backed by hollow words from a Government that broke its commitment to non-food pubs again.
“This ongoing singling out of wet pubs is now being institutionalised in the latest roadmap and is impossible for our members to understand and accept.”
He also pointed out that NPHET says that the way to deal with infections which are mainly occurring in the home is to keep those pubs that have been shut for six months closed for even longer.
“NPHET says jump and the Government leaps without looking,” he said, “How can anyone put any faith in a Government that just ignores its own commitments?
“Where is the scientific justification for this decision? This isn’t a remedy to the current increase in infections in Dublin. This has all the hallmarks of wanting to be seen to take action when in reality it does nothing to address the current problem. But it does have the impact of further penalising publicans, staff, suppliers and all their families. That is the one actual outcome that will come from this decision.
“This Government and NPHET take zero action against those parts of society which have caused clusters such as meat factories or direct provision centres, yet they continue to punish pubs whose doors have been kept shut for more than six months by order of the Government.
“Pubs are paying the price for the repeated shortfalls in the Government’s capacity to handle this crisis,” he believed.
Industry heavily critical
The drinks industry too has heavily criticised the Government’s decision.
Drinks Ireland, currently running an #OpeningTime campaign supported by both the LVA & VFI, has called for all pubs to be opened in a “safe and sustainable manner”.
According to Drinks Ireland, the continued closure of Dublin’s wet pubs is hugely damaging to the economy.
“This is now the fourth time that pubs in Dublin that do not serve food have been told they could re-open to then be told, at very short notice, that they no longer can,” said Drinks Ireland Director Patricia Callan, “It’s completely disproportionate and unfair for these pubs to be treated as political scapegoats and differently to the rest of the hospitality sector. Dublin pubs that serve food have re-opened, safely.”
This continued closure impacts not only pubs, but also drinks suppliers.
“This is now the fourth time new product has been brewed and delivered in kegs to Dublin pubs to then not be used. It’s also the fourth time drinks suppliers have worked with pubs in Dublin to clean beer lines ahead of a re-opening.”