With the National Public Health Emergency Team due to advise Government on the re-opening of pubs this morning, the Government will have to make a decision as to whether pubs will be able to trade from next Monday, the 10th of August.
For the second time in three weeks with less than a week’s notice pubs have been left uncertain about whether they’ll re-open or not.
With the majority of pubs across the country having been closed for 140 days and counting, says the LVA, the Government either needs to open the pubs next week or come up with a “meaningful” support plan for the sector.
Pubs have also yet to receive the guidelines that will inform their re-opening preparations. This absence of clarity means that pubs don’t know whether they should have staff lined up to work from next week or not, whether they should order and purchase stock or not or how they should organise their premises to account for any measures contained in the unpublished guidelines.
“Pubs across the country can’t continue to be left in limbo,” said LVA Chief Executive Donall O’Keeffe, “It’s creating intolerable pressure for publicans, their staff and suppliers.
“With less than seven days to go until the pubs are due to re-open we still don’t know what’s happening. This is exactly the same situation we were in three weeks ago. We can’t just keep going from three-week period to three-week period. How many times are the Government going to walk an entire industry up that hill of uncertainty?
“The Government can’t keep kicking the can down the road when it comes to tackling the future of the pub sector. Either they’re going to let us trade or they won’t. If they won’t they need to come up with a meaningful compensation package for the sector. No other industry is facing this level of insecurity and no other sector has been singled out in a way that the pubs of this country have been.
“We believe the vast majority of the sector have shown great responsibility during this public health crisis. Pubs all over Ireland supported the closure back in March. Our industry has supported measures which have fundamentally altered the pub experience and which severely damage our future prospects. Yet we still are uncertain about whether we will be allowed to re-open.
“Eleven pubs have already closed for good in Dublin alone since this crisis began. The Government either needs to give the industry the opportunity to open our doors or they need to get specific about what they’ll do to protect the future of this sector and the approximately 50,000 jobs it provides.”
Rural pubs feel used as a ‘messaging tool’
Outside Dublin, over 3,500 publicans across Ireland say they feel used as a ‘messaging tool’ by the Government that wishes to convey its public health message through keeping pubs shut, placing huge strain on publicans, their families and local communities.
“After the Government decision to postpone re-opening at virtually the last minute three weeks ago, any further delay would bring many publicans to breaking point,” stated VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribben, “It’s vital that our members open on 10th August. They simply can’t survive much longer.
“Our members feel the Government is using the trade as a convenient ‘messaging tool’ to capture public attention. As the Taoiseach has stated on several occasions, keeping pubs shut is designed to send a strong message to the public about avoiding complacency. This approach is highly disrespectful to publicans, their families and the 25,000 staff anxiously waiting to find out if they have a job to go back to next Monday. Our message to the Taoiseach is simple: open the pubs and allow our members prove they can implement the re-opening guidelines.”
According to VFI President Padraic McGann, society will be living with the virus for some time to come so keeping pubs shut is not a viable solution.
“The last three weeks has seen restaurants and pubs serving food open with, according to An Garda Siochana, an extremely high level of compliance,” he stated, “Either pubs are given the green light to open on Monday next or a realistic and meaningful compensation package must be put in place immediately. Otherwise many pubs will remain permanently closed.
“This is a ‘make or break’ week for Ireland’s pubs,” he concluded, “It’s impossible to overstate the crisis facing a sector that accepted the Government decision to close pubs back in March but now is forced to stand aside as uncontrolled environments such as house parties are allowed take place. The pub is a controlled and regulated environment where Social Distancing can be safely maintained,” he added.