PUBLICANS have voiced their frustration and disappointment at the Government’s decision not to reopen wet pubs as the country comes out of Level 5 restrictions on a phased basis before Christmas.
The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) met on Wednesday and made the recommendation that both restaurants and pubs should only serve takeaway throughout December.
However, the Government’s decision will see restaurants and gastro pubs open their doors this Christmas period, while pubs once again remain closed during what is normally one of the busiest times of the year for them.
Michael O’Donovan, owner of the Castle Inn on South Main Street and Cork City Chair of the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) said that members all over Cork are “frustrated, angry, and disappointed in our leaders”.
Mr O’Donovan said that publicans have been “dealt with very harshly” throughout the pandemic and are nine months later “still being told to close”.
“It’s very disheartening,” he said.
“We’ve had some of the most stringent guidelines placed upon us and everything they have asked of us we have done and most have gone above and beyond those guidelines and still they don’t trust us as publicans, or even, to go a step further, trust the customers that come into our premises.
“They put the guidelines in place, we followed those guidelines and were quite vocal in saying that any publican that doesn’t follow them or that breaks the guidelines, gardaí should deal with them,” he said.
Mr O’Donovan, who still has in excess of €500 in expenses each week since shutting his doors, highlighted the importance of the Christmas season, with December accounting for over 30% of his yearly turnover, which he said missing out on this year will bring a “huge strain to the business”.
He said that colleagues in the Cork branch of the Restaurant Association of Ireland were hoping that pubs reopen as it would “spread the burden and the pent-up demand where if one sector is kept closed, there’ll be unbelievable demand on those that will be open”.
John O’Connor of An Spailpín Fánach said: “Christmas is huge, it carries us through to March. You have your insurance and property tax to pay and it all comes together in January and basically what you make in Christmas pays for that. From January through to Paddy’s Day is always quiet.”