Current measures to remain in place: Cork publicans warn latest announcement could 'spell disaster' 

Current measures to remain in place: Cork publicans warn latest announcement could 'spell disaster' 
Pic; Larry Cummins

A Cork publican has said that although public health is of the “utmost importance” that the further closure of pubs could “spell disaster” for many of his colleagues.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced tonight that current health measures should remain in place until 10 August, which includes the reopening of all pubs 

Plans to increase the numbers who can gather outdoors and indoors were also postponed amid warnings about clusters of coronavirus infection.

The wearing of face coverings will be made compulsory in shops and other indoor public spaces.

Plans to roll out phase four of the emergence from lockdown have been put on hold.

Mr Martin said: "It will be understood for what it is.

"Protection of the progress, the undoubted progress we have made to date."

Micheal Martin said: "Pubs, bars, hotel bars, nightclubs and casinos will remain closed until the tenth of August."

He said unrestricted house parties had been linked to recent outbreaks.

"Social visits to people's homes will be limited to a maximum of 10 visitors from no more than four other households.

Restrictions on indoor gatherings to 50 and outdoors to 200 will remain until August 10.

Micheal Martin said: "It is the right thing to do - to press the pause button.

"It is very disappointing for publicans in particular."

He said various official support schemes had been put in place to support the sector.

Mr Martin said that Ireland will not be progressing the Phase 4 of the roadmap on reopening Ireland next Monday, 20 July. This was to include the reopening of pubs which do not serve food.

Cork City Chairperson of the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) Michael O’Donovan said the decision ends the season for many pubs, in particular seasonal pubs who rely on the last two weeks in July and first two weeks in August, as it is the busiest four week period in the holiday calendar.

Mr O’Donovan, who also runs the Castle Inn on South Main Street in the city centre, said that work had been done to the bar ahead of reopening but that despite calling for guidelines that as of Wednesday, guidelines specific to pubs were still not issued.

He said that he was “really upset” for his colleagues who have had to order stock over the last few days in preparation for reopening and those who have taken back staff for training purposes.

“Now they’re going to be under financial debt too because they’ll be paying the staff over the next three weeks, yes they’ll have them on the Wage Subsidy Scheme, but the scheme only covers a percentage of the wages so they’ll have to pay the remainder of the wage so some bars will be going into debt for the next three weeks because this decision has come so late.” One of those publicans who had ordered stock and had put hard work into preparing his pub for reopening was West Cork Councillor Danny Collins who owns the Boston Bar in Bantry.

Mr Collins said that he was “frustrated and cross” at the decision to defer the reopening of bars after ordering stock due for delivery on Thursday morning.

He said that this will be “the final nail in the coffin” for many bars and that publicans were capable of running their businesses safely like coffee shops, restaurants and other businesses have been doing.

“We were the first to close our doors and now it’s 18 weeks later and we’re still closed and to be quite honest we’ll see a lot of pubs not reopen their doors after this,” he said. “Publicans are capable of running their businesses properly and this is like a two fingers up to the publicans of the country and that’s the general view of all publicans.” He said that publicans have taken “hit after hit” from government after government with the smoking ban, strict drink-driving laws and “now this”.

He said that what happened in Dublin where people left pubs and congregated in large crowds outside, cannot be taken into consideration as “rural areas do not have those crowds” and said that he fears also for elderly people “who want to meet people at the pub just for a bit of company” and said that it is causing depression among people.

Mr O’Donovan called on the Government to “get creative” and the VFI have called for the reduction of the VAT on alcohol from 23% to 9%.

He said that the bones of 30,000 jobs in the 60% of wet pubs that are still closed are at stake and that it is “very important that we protect them”.

He said that lots of bars will need support in order to survive the remainder of the year and into January and February of next year as the loss of the staycation market will have an effect on many publicans’ businesses.

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