Publicans call for more support in form of 'financial package' after announcement of latest guidelines 

Publicans call for more support in form of 'financial package' after announcement of latest guidelines 
Michael O'Donovan of the Castle Inn, 99 South Main Street Cork CityPicture: Eddie O'Hare

Publicans have called on the Government for more support for the sector following Tuesday’s announcement on new guidelines.

After a surge in cases in recent weeks, a Cabinet meeting was held to decide on how best to move forward during Covid-19.

New measures include the reduction of outdoor gatherings of 200 people down to just 15 and indoor gatherings of 50 people down to six, with the exception of weddings.

Many publicans are potentially facing closure beyond August 31 in light of the most recent measures and are calling for greater support for the industry after over five full months of closure.

Cork City Chairperson of the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI), Michael O’Donovan, said that Tuesday’s announcement is a “real concern” because it “seems difficult to see how pubs will be reopened on August 31”.

“With the current guidelines in place and looking at the numbers again Tuesday it seems unlikely that they'll give us the green light to open,” Mr O’Donovan said.

A recent Support Not Sympathy campaign which the VFI and Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) are in support of was launched on what marked five months of closure for many on August 17.

Michael O'Donovan of the Castle Inn, 99 South Main Street Cork City. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Michael O'Donovan of the Castle Inn, 99 South Main Street Cork City. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Mr O’Donovan said that if the reopening date for pubs is pushed back again, that “it’s time we see support for these businesses”.

“There needs to be a commercial package put together for businesses because without this package many will not survive, especially those that depend on the summer trade who are now in difficulty because they have no reserve built up to survive the winter months.

“I don't know any business sector across the country or even the world that could survive being closed for the bones of 50% of their trading year and be expected to pay their bills and survive,” he said.

Mr O’Donovan said that gastro pubs that are currently open will also be hit when the temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme and moratorium on mortgages and loans end and that “the Government needs to provide a substantial financial package for all bars to survive this period”.

Mr O’Donovan also said that of the 25,000 unannounced inspections by gardaí on pubs, over 100 were found to be in breach of the guidelines which he said should have the full rigours of the law brought upon them but that the vast majority are following the rules.

An Spailpín Fánach in Cork city centre remains shut after over five months. Picture: Facebook/An Spailpin Fanach.
An Spailpín Fánach in Cork city centre remains shut after over five months. Picture: Facebook/An Spailpin Fanach.

Owner of An Spailpín Fánach, John O’Connor, said that although he is fearful that pubs may not reopen on August 31, that the Government would be “right with the way the figures are gone”.

“I was mad enough on August 10 but what happened afterwards copper-fastned what they did.

“It’s tough going and as much as I want to open the door and get my staff back to work and for things to get back to normal it is what it is and you've got to cut your cloth according to measure.” 

Mr O’Connor said he received the first payment, apart from the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment, since closing back in March in the form of a grant from Cork City Council which came through last week and that more support is needed.

The Tap Tavern in Kinsale remains shut after over five months of closure. Photo credit: Breda Graham.
The Tap Tavern in Kinsale remains shut after over five months of closure. Photo credit: Breda Graham.

Owner of The Tap Tavern in Kinsale, Brian O’Neill who is expecting to be potentially shut until January said he was not hopeful that his bar would reopen this side of Christmas before the most recent measures were announced.

He said that “at least the pubs on this occasion can’t be blamed for spreading anything” and that they now just have to “sit tight”.

In terms of stock, he said that minerals and barrels will be out of date by the time they do reopen and that if suppliers will not take that stock back, that they will be taking a further hit.

Brian O'Neill and David Peare of Ghost Tour Kinsale. Photo: Stefan Syrowatka.
Brian O'Neill and David Peare of Ghost Tour Kinsale. Photo: Stefan Syrowatka.

“The bar isn't open and the fridges aren't on but bills still have to be paid and it’s coming straight out of our pocket at this stage.” 

He said that various schemes that are available such as Guinness’ €14 million package to support pubs, are “only helping the publicans that are already open”.

He said that the restaurants and gastro pubs in Kinsale are doing a “fabulous job” of following all the regulations but that all pubs “are not in this together” as long as wet pubs remain shut.

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