Reopening plans for ‘wet pubs’ gives welcome clarity to rural publicans

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The announcement that “wet pubs” will be allowed to reopen this month provides welcome clarity for rural publicans and their families a Galway TD has said.

The government signed off on plans this week to allow pubs that don’t serve a ‘substantial meal’ to reopen on September 21, with new COVID-19 safety precautions in place.

Galway-Roscommon TD Claire Kerrane said that this is good news for people in rural areas, where for some people the pub is the only outlet for socialising.

“I am confident that rural pub owners and their staff are determined to abide by all new regulations and are aware of their responsibilities to protect their customers and wider communities.

“Rural pubs have dedicated considerable time, resources and money to make their premises Covid compliant and they have been waiting to open and operate in that new manner for many months now.”

Pubs which can serve a ‘substantial meal’ have been allowed to do business since late July, but the date for reopening the remainder of the sector has been continuously pushed back.

This has caused considerable anger and frustration among publicans, as many of those that have not been allowed to reopen are those in rural areas, and it has been argued that there is no reason why they should be forced to stay shut if restaurants and pubs that serve food aren’t.

The new guidelines being brought in are largely in line what is already employed elsewhere, such as limited attendance, keeping details for contact tracing, and no live music.

“Sadly, the pandemic has seen an increase in feelings of loneliness and isolation across our communities and such feelings have been particularly acute in many rural areas,” Claire Kerrane said.

She added that hopefully this announcement will help “ease some of that isolation” and facilitate community socialising in rural areas.