Pub openings delay 'final nail in the coffin' for many, says West Cork councillor

Pub openings delay 'final nail in the coffin' for many, says West Cork councillor

  • The reopening of Ireland’s pubs and nightclubs is to be delayed until August 10 and plans to allow larger crowds to gather indoors and outdoors from Monday have been scrapped amid concerns over the spread of coronavirus.

    The total number of people infected per positive case is now 1.2 to 1.8, chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said.

    Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “It is the right thing to do — to press the pause button.”

    But leading Cork publican Benny McCabe has said it “would be safer to have all the pubs reopen than to have all these house parties going on”.

    Social visits to people’s homes will remain 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, Mr Martin said.

    That will come as a set back to facilities like theatres and cinemas.

    Cork publican and VFI chair Michael O’Donovan said although public health is of the “utmost importance”, the delay could “spell disaster” for many of his colleagues.

Face coverings will also become mandatory 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 his main priority was to reopen schools in September then resume non-Covid health services as quickly as he could.

“If we did not intervene and take these measures it would take an inevitable course, which is in nobody’s interest.”

Pubs that serve food can continue to serve alcohol with a substantial meal.

Dr Glynn said the number of cases had increased over recent days and expressed concern about the number of contacts for some individuals and over the development of infection clusters.

“This virus is extremely infectious. It wants to spread but it needs people to come into contact with each other to do so.”

Mr O’Donovan said the decision to keep the pubs closed ends the season for many, and he said he was “really upset” for his colleagues who have ordered stock over the last few days in preparation for re-opening 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 some bars will be going into debt for the next three weeks because this decision has come so late.”

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

One of the publicans who had ordered stock and put work into preparing his pub for reopening was West Cork councillor Danny Collins, who owns the Boston Bar in Bantry.

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

He said 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 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”.

He said that he fears also for elderly people “who want to meet people at the pub just for a bit of company”.

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”.

On Wednesday, gardaí said the vast majority of licensed premises had been found to be in compliance with regulations and licensing laws. 

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