After sacrificing their businesses for over 15 months, the VFI says that now is the time for Government to confirm to its members that pubs can fully reopen by the first week in July in time for the traditional start of the Summer tourist season while the LVA feels that the success of the vaccine rollout should facilitate the resumption of indoor hospitality by this date too.
This date provides for up to another five full weeks to substantially complete the vaccine rollout which would allow the safe return of indoor service, it states.
Indoor hospitality is due to resume for all hospitality outlets in Northern Ireland from today while hotels here are to resume indoor service from the 2nd of June.
RoI pubs and restaurants will be able to provide outdoor hospitality from the 7th of June although currently there’s no confirmed date for when they can reopen their doors for indoor service.
The VFI has stated that running an outdoor-only business is not sustainable for the vast majority of its members so clarity on when publicans can resume indoor trading is required this week.
“Every day counts for our members and they need to hear from Government this week that indoor trading can resume no later than Thursday 1st July,” said VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribben, “After an horrendous 15 months, it’s great to see the country reopen and publicans along with their staff are certainly looking forward to being part of that process. The successful vaccination programme sends a strong signal that life is returning to something approaching normal.”
His Dublin counterpart, Donall O’Keeffe, agreed, stating, “The success of the vaccine rollout is completely changing the picture when it comes to the pandemic,” The tremendous effort of our health service and healthcare workers in delivering the vaccine is making a major difference on a daily basis. Hospital admissions are reducing and the number of people in ICU has also fallen considerably. That progress is likely to continue throughout the rest of May and into June. Those involved in the vaccine rollout deserve immense gratitude for all they have done and are continuing to do.
“Thankfully this success also makes it safer for other activity to resume including indoor hospitality service. Given that indoor service will be allowed in hotels and guesthouses from 2nd June and in all hospitality settings in Northern Ireland from Monday we believe it would be reasonable that indoor service should resume no later than 1st July.
“While we welcome the fact that outdoor hospitality will return in another couple of weeks, unfortunately not all pubs and restaurants will be in a position to provide service of that nature. Outdoor is a very short-term solution to facilitate some resumption of activity but it certainly won’t allow for the recovery of the hospitality industry and full resumption of employment in the sector. That’s why everyone in our industry is keenly awaiting confirmation for when we can open our doors for indoor hospitality.”
Padraig Cribben also pointed out that pubs in NI are reopening indoors this week, three weeks after outdoor trading started there.
“We’ve said all along that pubs in the Republic should follow the same timeline which would see our members reopen indoors by 1st July.
“We can’t have a two-tier pub sector on the island for longer than a couple of weeks as already people are crossing the border to socialise.
“When our pubs do reopen they must follow strict social distancing guidelines and we’re asking Government to get those guidelines published immediately so our members can begin preparations.
“Our members are looking forward to reopening for outdoor trading on 7th June but that is only the first step. The Government must bring finality to what has been a catastrophic period for the trade by announcing pubs can fully reopen no later than 1st July.”
The LVA also strongly welcomes recent reports that social distancing requirements will be one metre for both outdoor and indoor service and that no time limits will apply.
“The abolition of the artificial divide between food pubs and traditional pubs is also a huge positive for our sector,” stated Donall O’Keefe, “These will really help our recovery. Given these details have now been confirmed we hope the publication of the official guidelines will take place as early as possible this week. They’re badly needed to allow our industry to prepare for the return of customers outdoors in the coming weeks,” he concluded.