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Pub owners propose new plan that could see them open six weeks early

By Sarah Finnan

May 4, 2020 at 3:14pm

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Leo Varadkar addressed the nation on Friday evening, updating the public on the proposed roadmap for lifting lockdowns and easing the current restrictions in place against Covid-19.

Extending the lockdown for a further two weeks until May 18th, An Taoiseach gave details of a five-stage plan that will be used to reopen the country. Pubs, bars, nightclubs, theatres, cinemas and casinos were included in the fifth and final phase - with a predicted reopening of August 10th.

Of course, many publicans are eager to reopen as soon as possible with trade groups offering up a "radical" plan that would allow them to get back up and running from the end of June, a whole six weeks earlier than scheduled.

Both The Licensed Vintners' Association (LVA) and the Vintners' Federation of Ireland (VFI) have written to the Government to accept their invitation to discuss the implications the roadmap will have on pubs, citing it as "a matter of urgency".

Pressing for pubs to be permitted to reopen at the same time (and on the same basis) as cafes and restaurants, a number of measures have been proposed as part of the discussions  - including the below:

  • Bars will become dispense bars only with no sitting, standing, ordering, payment or drinking allowed at the bar itself
  • Table service will be a requirement with pubs only serving customers seated at tables - no more than six to a table - and all customers must remain seated
  • Numbers would be confined to a maximum of four people per 10 square metres
  • Customers will be required to use hand sanitiser upon entering the premises

The plan also suggests that outdoor spaces be utilised in order to ensure social distancing is adhered to. Staff will be asked to maintain a safe distance from customers, washing their hands thoroughly every 30 minutes and no live music or DJs will be permitted on the premises.

Speaking of the proposed measures Donall O'Keeffe, Chief Executive of the LVA said:

"We fully respect the need to continue to protect the public health. We have repeatedly proven this commitment, not least in the fact that our sector was the first to close across the country. 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.

We are making a series of radical proposals to how bars should operate for the reopening scenario. Trading will be extremely difficult under these circumstances. There is no doubt that the pub experience as we know it will have to change dramatically. Many pubs may choose not to reopen as it simply won’t be financially viable under these conditions. However, for those who want to trade, these measures will have the essential impact of protecting the health and wellbeing of staff and customers alike."

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