Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has engaged with Cork city Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) members who protested on Monday morning about the continued lack of information about the reopening of wet pubs.
Cork city chairperson of the VFI and owner of the Castle Inn on South Main Street, Michael O’Donovan, said that although Minister Coveney engaged with the 15 protesters outside his Cork office, that he was unable to give assurance that a date for reopening would be given to publicans next Monday.
Draft guidelines drawn up for the sector outline that social distancing can be reduced to one metre from the standard two in a controlled environment, according to the Irish Times.
Pre-booking and time-limited slots, however, will not be required if a physical distance of two metres can be maintained. This means pubs operating under these conditions will not have to limit customers to spending no longer than 105 minutes on the premises.
Publicans will only be permitted to serve people at their tables, and will be required to fully disinfect their bars a minimum of twice a day.
All patrons will have to vacate the premises by 11.30pm each night, meaning late night bars and nightclubs are likely to remain closed.
“There's a Cabinet meeting tomorrow morning and they hope to discuss pubs again but he can't give us assurances that we will get a date next Monday and that’s quite worrying that he can't give us that assurance,” Mr O’Donovan said.
He said that the draft guidelines that were leaked over the weekend were seen by members of the VFI “a number of weeks back” and that they contain few additional restrictions than those currently imposed upon premises serving food.
“We had seen this a number of weeks back in a letter from NPHET to the Cabinet and to be quite honest the only difference in the draft copy that was leaked on media over the weekend is a €9 requirement for a meal so pubs that are operating as restaurants at the moment are following the guidelines, there's protocols and procedures already in place.
“All we’re doing is asking to be given the opportunity and the one thing we’re looking for is to be given a date that we can open and that we can be trusted to follow these guidelines going forward. The vast majority of pubs that are open to date are following those guidelines,” he said.
A total of 30 protesters took to the streets of Cork at 10am on Monday morning, splitting into two groups of 15, one outside Minister Coveney’s office and the other outside Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath’s office.
Mr O’Donovan said that members will reassess following their engagement with Minister Coveney and will decide what action to take in the coming days.