The body which represents drinks suppliers and manufacturers across the country said today that it’s urging the Government to base decisions around the reopening of the hospitality sector fairly and to base those decisions on evidence, research and data.
Pubs are regulated environments, with responsible staff and will play their part in maintaining strict Covid-19 measures as was seen when they opened earlier this year.
Drinks Ireland said that while Christmas will be completely different this year – meaning that the experience in the hospitality sector will also be very different – pubs will work hard to keep everyone safe, giving customers the opportunity to connect with the people they love in a place they love.
Just 0.3% of Covid-19 outbreaks have been linked to pubs
Studies of the virus around the world show only limited examples of spread in hospitality venues. According to official data, less than 2% of cases in Austria during October were tied to hospitality venues while only 1.4% of all cases in the Netherlands were traced back to bars and restaurants.
In Ireland, just 0.3% of Covid-19 outbreaks have been linked to pubs to date, according to the HSE/HPSC’s epidemiological data.
Drinks Ireland therefore argues that if pubs remain closed people will be driven to unregulated environments such as households, where Covid-19 measures may be ignored and people may mix in large groups without social distancing.
A recent study in the Lancet based on evidence from 131 countries found that the most effective measure to reduce the ‘R rate’ of virus transmission was restrictions on public events/gatherings. This points to the need to manage unregulated social gatherings believes Drinks Ireland which also urged the Government not to discriminate between pubs that serve food and those that don’t as it did in the past.
“Dublin pubs that don’t serve food have been closed since March,” stated Drinks Ireland, “There’s no evidence that pubs that don’t serve food are riskier settings.”
It also stated that there’s no reason for Ireland to be treated as an outlier in the EU where, for the most part, the hospitality sector is treated fairly and in accordance with other parts of the economy.
“We know, based on the available published research, that there’s little evidence hospitality venues are driving infections” said Drinks Ireland Director Patricia Callan, “but in contrast there are significant consequences of keeping these venues shut. This includes people gathering in homes, without social distancing and other measures in place.
“The hospitality and wider experience sector employs 330,000 people many of whom are young people. In the longer-term the sector can play a crucial role in the economic recovery which will follow this pandemic as it did during the recovery of the last economic crisis when it accounted for one in every seven jobs created.
“Businesses have continued to implement the Government’s Covid-19 measures, adhering to the Level 5 restrictions which for pubs meant closing completely or remaining shut,” she concluded, “The December trading period will be a final lifeline for many pubs who’re ready and able to welcome customers back. It’s #OpeningTime.”