Both the Licensed Vintners Association and the Vintners Federation of Ireland now believe that the sector is facing a “full-blown crisis” which will place “intolerable pressure” on publicans, staff, suppliers and all their families.
The two representative bodies also said that this decision will be met with “fury and despair” across the sector.
Pubs across Ireland who’d invested considerable sums in kitting-out their premises to the standard of Covid-19 safety that they anticipate will be part of the still-unpublished Government guidelines for pubs and who’d been expecting to re-open next Monday must now remain closed. These pubs, in the majority across Ireland, thus remain closed and will now have had to keep their doors shut for a minimum of 168 days or nearly half a year.
Meanwhile the “sympathy” being expressed by Government figures will not save pub businesses or jobs, stated both vintners organisations who called for the immediate introduction of a “meaningful support package” for the pubs in light of this latest development as pubs currently closed cannot benefit from the Stimulus Package announced in July.
This is the second time in three weeks that the Government has delayed the re-opening of the pubs and the Government has yet to publish the long-awaited guidelines for how these pubs will be expected to operate.
“This is Groundhog Day for the trade as twice now the re-opening of pubs has been postponed,” said VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribben, “The new Government’s decision has caused grave alarm within the trade as publicans face an extremely uncertain future with little to feel optimistic about. Make no mistake, this is a full-blown crisis for the trade as over 3,500 pubs must now remain shut.
“The Government has effectively denied pubs the ability to trade and as a result will have to provide substantial supports to our members, many of whom are deeply agitated at what they feel is the State abandoning a vital part of the hospitality sector.”
LVA Chief Executive Donall O’Keeffe added, “The Government has basically just abandoned half the pub sector. It’s becoming increasingly obvious that they don’t have a plan for dealing with our sector. We’re repeatedly being told that opening the pubs ‘could lead to an increase in the virus’. Well when will that not be the case? Was that not a potential issue at the other phases too? With the National Public Health Emergency Team always urging caution, when will this Government ever re-open pubs?
“This decision will be met with both fury and despair across the entire sector. It’s creating intolerable pressure on those pubs still closed, their 25,000 staff, suppliers to the industry and all their families. The Government can’t keep stringing the entire sector along like this. Where is their plan? Where are their supports for the industry? The pubs that are closed or their staff certainly won’t benefit from the July Stimulus if they have to stay closed.”
The future viability of these businesses is in doubt, he said.
“There is only so much an industry can take,” he concluded, “If the Government wants the pub sector to survive there needs to be a solution for handling pubs during this public health emergency crisis. That means coming up with a meaningful support package for pubs whose doors remain shut by order of the Government,”