Sixteen pubs in Galway have been forced to permanently close their doors since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) and Licenced Vintners’ Association (LVA) there has been a 5% drop in the number of pub licences renewed in the past year and a half, a loss of 349 pubs around the country.
The two organisations say that this is an indicator of the extreme distress that public health restrictions have caused the sector, ahead of the planned ending of most restrictions on October 22.
The figures, which were taken from an analysis of licence renewals published by the Revenue Commissioners, shows that Cork has lost 37 pubs, Dublin and Donegal 33 each, and 22 have shut in Kerry.
Padraig Cribben, Chief Executive of the VFI, says “These new figures reveal Covid’s dramatic impact on the trade over the past 19 months.”
He said that the closure of so many public houses is “unprecedented” for such a short space of time.
“In light of recent speculation about delaying the ending of restrictions, the news that pubs are closing across the country will only heighten anxiety in the trade.”
“Uncertainty is a key factor in why so many pubs have closed so Government must put an end to the crisis by announcing the easing of restrictions will proceed as planned.”
October 22 had been set weeks ago as the date when most COVID-19 public health restrictions on event sizes and personal distancing were to end.
Concerns have been expressed in recent days about this progression, due to the rising number of daily COVID cases, and increased hospital figures for the disease.
Donall O’Keeffe, Chief Executive of the LVA, warned that “These pubs closed even with the Government supports in place. We think the reopening of late night hospitality, the return of the bar counter, the end of mandatory table service and a resumption of normal trading hours should proceed next Friday.”
“If access is limited to those who have been vaccinated there is no justification for not proceeding the easing of the rest of the restrictions.”
“With more than 90% of the adult population vaccinated and vaccine passes likely to remain in place, if we can’t allow hospitality to trade relatively normally now then when will we ever be able to?”
He said that pubs are desperate to get back to normal trading, and many hospitality businesses on the edge have been hanging on in anticipation of this day.