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Coronavirus: Pubs in Ireland propose 'radical changes' to secure earlier opening

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Difficult trading: Donall O’Keeffe

Difficult trading: Donall O’Keeffe

Difficult trading: Donall O’Keeffe

No live music or DJs, no standing and no dancing - this is the future of Irish pubs in a socially distanced world.

The pub experience will be "dramatically" different according to a new set of social distancing strict guidelines which may allow for pubs in the Republic to reopen sooner.

Industry representatives will urge Dublin officials to allow bars to reopen at the same time as restaurants and cafés, with a series of strict social distancing guidelines in place.

According to the Irish Government's roadmap to reopening the country, pubs are to reopen in phase five, which would be August 10 at earliest. However, cafés and restaurants will reopen under phase three, from June 29.

Pub representatives Licensed Vintners' Association (LVA) and the Vintners' Federation of Ireland (VFI) have now joined forces to urge the Irish Government to put forward pub reopening dates if publicans follow strict measures.

The measures are:

  • Dispense-only bars, with no sitting, standing, ordering, payment or drinking at the bar itself.
  • Customers will be seated at tables at all times, with table service provided.
  • No more than four people per every 10 square metres; a maximum of six people allowed at one table;
  • Hand sanitiser used before entry, with staff washing hands every half hour;
  • Outdoor spaces must "enhance" social distancing;
  • No live music or DJ and the safe use of toilets, which may include limits on the number of customers using them at one time.

Gardaí or the Health Service Executive will have the power to close any business flouting the public health guidelines.

The LVA and the VFI believe that under these strict guidelines, pubs should be allowed to reopen on June 29 instead of August 10.

"We don't believe it is in any way appropriate that the Government should apply one rule for some hospitality businesses and another rule for others," said Donall O'Keeffe, chief executive of the LVA.

He said that trading will be "extremely difficult" under these new guidelines and that the pub "experience" will drastically change.

"We are making a series of radical proposals to how bars should operate for the reopening scenario.

"Trading will be extremely difficult under these circumstances.

"There is no doubt that the pub experience as we know it will have to change dramatically.

"However, for those who want to trade, these measures will have the essential impact of protecting the health and wellbeing of staff and customers alike," Mr O'Keeffe said.

Chief executive of the VFI Padraig Cribben said that the roadmap as it stands is not "tenable".

"The public health restrictions will present real challenges to all hospitality venues, it doesn't matter if they are a pub, a restaurant, a cafe or a hotel," he said.

"There is no denying that and there is no getting around it.

"Addressing those public health requirements will be necessary for all hospitality businesses whenever they reopen.

"Pubs across Ireland are up to that challenge and will do what is required for maintaining a safe and healthy place of business."

He added that the two groups hoped to meet minister this week.

Many pubs in Ireland closed their doors at the outset of the coronavirus emergency, before even being instructed to by the Government, amid concerns over social distancing.

Belfast Telegraph