With the National Public Health Emergency Team expected to provide recommendations to Government tomorrow and indications that the Government may make an announcement on Friday, Dublin vintners are seeking the resumption of trading until midnight to return “at the earliest possible opportunity”. The Association believes the sector will be able to adapt at short notice.
The LVA would also like to see the Government outline plans which allow for the reopening of late bars and nightclubs (as well as the removal of all other hospitality restrictions) follow very shortly afterwards. This would include allowing access to bar counters once more which hasn’t been permitted in pubs since before their original closure at the outset of the pandemic on the 15th of March 2020.
Nightclubs in Scotland are due to reopen on the 24th of January and on the 28th of January in Wales.
“Various public health experts and senior representatives of the Government are indicating that the country has entered a new stage of the pandemic, so we’re hopeful there will be good news for the reopening of hospitality in the coming days,” said LVA Chief Executive Donall O’Keeffe, “We’d like to see the Government moving swiftly and allowing for the recovery of hospitality to begin as soon as possible.
“In light of the more positive outlook we’d certainly support the return to opening until midnight from as early as this weekend. We know that’s what pubs throughout the country would like to see and they’d make every effort to be ready if they were given the green light by Government. Certainly, the industry has had to shut down at very short notice on several occasions during the pandemic, so many would like the opportunity to adjust to good news in just as-short-a timeframe.
“We also hope the Government will be able to outline their expected plans for the removal of the other restrictions on the hospitality sector. If improvements in the public health environment are progressing as quickly as it seems then we don’t see why the reopening of late bars, nightclubs and live entertainment can’t follow shortly afterwards along with the removal of the other restrictions applied to the hospitality sector. Every pub in the country would like to permit access to their bar counter again for instance, which they haven’t been able to do since the outset of the pandemic.
“It’s now only 55 days until the 15th of March, which will mark the two-year anniversary of pubs closing their doors at the outset of the pandemic – the first sector to do so. The Government has also suggested that there will be a two-day Bank Holiday on the 17th and 18th of March this year and our industry would certainly hope to be in a position to trade normally well in advance of those dates. From a tourist perspective, so long as the current public health progress continues, we need to be able to say the hospitality sector is fully open and welcoming of visitors well in advance of St Patrick’s weekend.”
LVA seeks in-depth discussions with Government
The LVA is also seeking in-depth discussions with the Government about a long-term plan to keep the sector fully open, including the consideration of mitigation measures to prevent future Lockdowns. This would involve the Government setting out a defined position on ventilation and air quality standards as well as other mitigation measures that could be adopted by hospitality venues to help reduce the likelihood of further hospitality lockdowns.
“We think it’s very important that the Government now begins earnest engagement with the whole hospitality sector around a long-term plan to keep our sector fully open, avoiding the threat of future Lockdowns,” said Donall O’Keefe, “Given the impact the extended closures have had on the public coffers – both in terms of the cost of pandemic support payments and loss of tax revenue – and the devastating impact on the industry itself, surely there’s a responsibility to look at how we can keep hospitality businesses fully open long-term? Now would seem the opportune time to really get to grips with this issue, to see what steps are needed to improve ventilation and to future-proof our sector as best as possible against further restrictions and lockdowns,” he concluded.