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"Santa may not come" - Publicans make impassioned call for December reopening

By James Fenton

November 11, 2020 at 12:25pm

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Publicans have told the Government that Ireland faces a 'two-tier Christmas' if the hospitality sector remains closed throughout December.

In an impassioned statement issued today, the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) and the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) said that pub staff around the country are 'contacting their employers to ask if they can return to work in December, saying they can’t afford Christmas for their families on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP)'.

Current Level 5 restrictions are due to end on December 1 and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Tony Holohan has suggested that this date may not necessarily mark the reopening of pubs. Today's statement released by publicans says that 'such a situation will create deep division in the country, if large sections of the economy are allowed to go back to work and receive their normal salaries in the run up to Christmas, while the families of those working in the hospitality industry must watch on.'

Citing figures compiled since pubs were first ordered to close back in the spring, the statement adds: 'One third of the pubs in Dublin (approximately 250) have not opened for a single day since March 15, while almost half of the pubs throughout the country traded for a total of just over two weeks during that period, before being closed down again when the Government tightened the restrictions ahead of the lockdown.'

Donall O’Keeffe, Chief Executive of the LVA, said: "It’s not ok for the Government to impose this burden on tens of thousands of families all across Ireland. It’s not okay for Government policy to be creating a ‘haves and have nots’ division all over the country around Christmas.

"Are Micheál Martin or Leo Varadkar going to tell the tens of thousands of children whose families work in the hospitality sector that Santa may not come to them this year or that he’ll be operating on a severe budget, while their neighbours and friends face no such restrictions? Because make no mistake these are the points being raised by pub staff all over Ireland who are becoming increasingly desperate about what type of Christmas they’ll be able to provide for their families.

"People in our industry have taken a lot of pain this year, but if this situation is allowed to happen I don’t think it will ever be forgotten. It is a sure-fire way to sow lasting discord around the country."

You can read today's statement by the LVA and VFI in full here.

(header pic: Hole in the Wall, Dublin)

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