The move follows commitments made by Ministers over the weekend that the Government will meet the two bodies over the course of the coming week.
The two organisations will be pressing for pubs to re-open at the same time and on the same basis as cafés and restaurants.
Recognising the challenge of maintaining social distancing in a hospitality environment, the organisations will be putting forward radical changes to the normal operation of bars in order to protect public health.
- bars will become dispense bars only with no sitting, standing, ordering, payment or drinking at the bar allowed
- table service will be a requirement with pubs only serving customers seated at tables
- the numbers on the premises would be confined to no more than four per 10 square metres
- maximum of six people would be permitted at any one table
- customers will be required to use hand sanitiser upon entry
- all customers must remain seated
- staff will be fully trained in the new procedures and they will also be asked to maintain a safe distance from customers when taking orders and wash their hands thoroughly every 30 minutes
- the utilisation of outdoor spaces to enhance social distancing
- procedures implemented to ensure safe use of toilet facilities which may include limits on the numbers using toilets at any one time
- no live music or DJs
- Gardaí/HSE to have the power to close any business flouting public health guidelines.
The two organisations will also stress that they remain fully committed to doing what’s necessary to protect the health and safety of all staff and customers.
Strict protocols setting out how staff and customers are required to comply with social distancing in hospitality businesses will be developed in conjunction with National Public Health Emergency Team and the Department of Health, the two organisations have stated. Those protocols would apply to all hospitality businesses. The publican groups would look to have the temporary measures reviewed by NPHET on an ongoing basis with a view to resuming normal trading when it is safe to do so.
“We fully respect the need to continue to protect the public health,” said LVA Chief Executive Donall O’Keeffe, speaking about the proposed measures, “We have repeatedly proven this commitment, not least in the fact that our sector was the first to close across the country. We also believe that if other venues who serve food and alcohol are allowed to reopen in Phase 3, then pubs should be granted the same opportunity to trade. We don’t believe it is in any way appropriate that the Government should apply one rule for some hospitality businesses and another rule for others.
“We are making a series of radical proposals to how bars should operate for the re-opening scenario. Trading will be extremely difficult under these circumstances. There is no doubt that the pub experience as we know it will have to change dramatically. Many pubs may choose not to reopen as it simply won’t be financially viable under these conditions. However, for those who want to trade, these measures will have the essential impact of protecting the health and wellbeing of staff and customers alike,” he said.
“We were pleased to see Minister Humphreys and Minister Harris commit to organising a meeting this week to discuss the re-opening of pubs in line with restaurants and cafés,” added VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribben, “We have now written to the Government to ensure this meeting happens at the earliest possible opportunity. What is clear is that the current roadmap plan isn’t tenable and will lead to confusion in the hospitality sector if it is not addressed.
“The public health restrictions will present real challenges to all hospitality venues, it doesn’t matter if they are a pub, a restaurant, a café or a hotel. There is no denying that and there is no getting around it. Addressing those public health requirements will be necessary for all hospitality businesses whenever they re-open. Pubs across Ireland are up to that challenge and will do what is required for maintaining a safe and healthy place of business,” he concluded.