‘Open the pubs’ demand publicans ahead of ‘make or break’ Government decision

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–       140 days since pubs closed – ‘now or never’ moment for many publicans
–       Any further delay will require substantial compensation package
–       Government using pubs as messaging tool displays lack of respect

Over 3,500 publicans across Ireland, who are desperate to open next Monday (10th August), say they feel used as a ‘messaging tool’ by the Government that wishes, say publicans, to convey its public health message through keeping pubs shut. The Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) says the ongoing treatment of their members, including postponing the reopening of pubs and delaying publication of guidelines, is placing huge strain on publicans, their families and local communities.

VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribben says: “It’s vital that our members open on 10th August. After the Government decision to postpone reopening at virtually the last minute three weeks ago, any further delay would bring many publicans to breaking point. They simply can’t survive much longer.

“Our members feel the Government is using the trade as a convenient ‘messaging tool’ to  capture public attention. As the Taoiseach has stated on several occasions, keeping pubs shut is designed to send a strong message to the public about avoiding complacency. This approach is highly disrespectful to publicans, their families and the 25,000 staff anxiously waiting to find out if they have a job to go back to next Monday. Our message to the Taoiseach is simple: open the pubs and allow our members prove they can implement the reopening guidelines.”

According to VFI President, Padraic McGann, society will be living with the virus for some time to come so keeping pubs shut is not a viable solution. “Our members are closed for 140 days and counting, it is simply unfair to deny publicans the opportunity to trade when every other sector in society is open.

“The last three weeks has seen restaurants and pubs serving food open with, according to An Garda Siochana, an extremely high level of compliance. Either pubs are given the greenlight to open on Monday next or a realistic and meaningful compensation package must be put in place immediately. Otherwise many pubs will remain permanently closed.

“This is a ‘make or break’ week for Ireland’s pubs. It’s impossible to overstate the crisis facing a sector that accepted the Government decision to close pubs back in March but now is forced to stand aside as uncontrolled environments such as house parties are allowed take place. The pub is a controlled and regulated environment where social distancing can be safely maintained,” Padraic McGann concludes.

END