Trade groups representing Irish publicans have made a radical proposal for pubs to reopen at the end of June, six weeks ahead of the timeline laid out in the government’s roadmap.
The Licensed Vintners Association and Vintners Federation of Ireland have written to the government seeking an urgent meeting to discuss reopening pubs alongside restaurants and cafés this summer.
Currently pubs are not expected to reopen until August, but the two trade groups say that they should have the same opportunity to trade as other hospitality businesses.
Ahead of any meeting with government officials, the two vintners groups have outlined changes which could be made to normal pub operations 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 4 per every 10 square metres.
- A maximum of 6 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. They will also be asked to maintain a safe distance from customers when taking orders and to 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 will have the power to close any business who is flouting the public health guidelines.
Speaking about the proposed measures, Donall O’Keeffe, Chief Executive of the LVA said that they respect the need to protect public health, and the fact that pubs were the first to close demonstrates that commitment.
“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.”
O’Keeffe acknowledged that trading will be “extremely difficult” under the measures the have proposed, and that many pubs may choose not to reopen as it simply wouldn’t be financially viable.
But, he added, for those who want to get back to business, these measures will protect the wellbeing of staff and customers.
The two organisations also stressed that they will have any temporary social distancing measures reviewed by the NPHET on an ongoing basis.
Padraig Cribben, Chief Executive of the VFI said they are pleased to see Ministers Humphreys and Harris commit to organising a meeting with them this week to discuss the timeline for reopening pubs
“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 reopen.”
“Pubs across Ireland are up to that challenge and will do what is required for maintaining a safe and healthy place of business,” Mr. Cribben concluded.