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Some pubs 'won't reopen' due to Republic of Ireland's restrictive guidelines

Industry body issues stark warning after proposals were circulated to the sector

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Feeling pinch: People walk past Paddy Dunne’s, a pub in Athy, Co Kildare with posters lobbying the Irish government to relax restrictions

Feeling pinch: People walk past Paddy Dunne’s, a pub in Athy, Co Kildare with posters lobbying the Irish government to relax restrictions

PA

Donall O’Keeffe of the Licensed Vintners Association

Donall O’Keeffe of the Licensed Vintners Association

Feeling pinch: People walk past Paddy Dunne’s, a pub in Athy, Co Kildare with posters lobbying the Irish government to relax restrictions

Draft guidelines on reopening "wet" pubs in the Irish Republic are so restrictive many may question whether they will have to stay closed, one industry body has warned.

The bleak assessment from the Licensed Vintners Association came after the proposals were circulated to the sector yesterday.

The measures are broadly in line with the guidance that accompanied the reopening of bars that served food at the end of June.

Non-food pubs are still awaiting the green light to reopen, but the Irish Government has signalled a desire to set a date in the coming weeks. Further details are set to be included in a new national plan for dealing with the virus, which is due to be published on September 14.

Measures outlined in the 25-page guidance document drawn up by the Government, in conjunction with tourism body Failte Ireland, include bans on counter service and people sitting at bars.

It was circulated to publicans on a weekend that saw health officials voice concerns about rising cases of Covid-19 in Dublin.

Under the draft guidance, table service will be mandatory in all licensed premises and alcohol can only be served to 11.30pm.

The guidelines encourage a reduction of seating within premises and two metre social distancing between tables.

This can be reduced to one metre if additional infection control steps are introduced.

However, customers will be limited to a 105 minute stay in premises where the one metre measure is in operation.

Only six people can be at any one table and they must not come from more than three households.

Face coverings must be worn by staff who engage with customers, unless protective screens are in place.

Strict queuing systems for the toilets must be introduced and pubs are urged to discourage the use of cash for transactions.

Staff must record and retain the details of one person in each group of customers for 28 days for Covid-19 contact tracing purposes.

Donall O'Keeffe, chief executive of the LVA, which represents publicans in Dublin, said: "These new guidelines will place a huge restriction on the normal way of doing business for pubs.

"Not being able to use the bar counter with table service only is very significant and will really limit the non-food pubs.

"There is also a real emphasis on social distancing throughout the guidelines. There will be questions over whether or not many of the pubs still closed will be able to open with these guidelines. They are far from ideal, but given that these pubs have been closed for six months we guess this is the price we will have to pay."

The Vintners' Federation of Ireland, which represents 4,000 publicans across the country, also raised concerns. However, VFI chief executive Padraig Cribben said publicans would find ways to make the rules work.

"The guidelines as presented will be onerous for our members to implement but at this stage publicans are desperate to open so will find a way to make them work," he said.

"We've seen restaurants and pubs serving food successfully trade over the past eight weeks so the pathway is there for the remainder of pubs to follow."

Belfast Telegraph