'It has to be safe' - Publicans look for social distancing guidelines when they reopen

Publicans say they will need detailed guidelines on the implementation of social distancing measures in pubs before they can reopen.
'It has to be safe' - Publicans look for social distancing guidelines when they reopen

Publicans say they will need detailed guidelines on the implementation of social distancing measures in pubs before they can reopen.

Head of the Cork branch of the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI), Michael O’Donovan, said several publicans have been assessing their various premises in a bid to figure out how they could implement and enforce social distancing.

And while most publicans accept it will be several months before they can start pulling pints again, he said there should be detailed engagement and consultation with the industry in advance to ensure it’s done safely and properly: "We’d love to go back to work as soon as possible but it has to be safe."

"Every publican is concerned for public health and for the health of their staff so any reopening has to be safe for customers and for staff," he said.

It’s five weeks since the outcry over the gathering of people in that pub in Temple Bar that sparked an outcry. But five weeks on, maybe social distancing is more acceptable for people.

"We have been walking our floors and measuring, trying to figure out if we could implement social distancing. It sounds quite simple but it’s quite complicated when you get into the detail. You need access points, service points, routes to the toilets — all that kind of thing.

"Each pub will be different. There is no blueprint here. Everyone will have to do their own work on this.

"And then we will have to work out if it’s even financially viable to even open a premises with these measures in place. We will need guidelines and maybe even trial openings to see how it works, then reassess it before moving on."

He made his comments as the owner of several well-known pubs in Cork and Dublin said be believes the growing talk about the reopening of schools, pubs, restaurants, cinemas, and theatres is premature while we are still fighting the virus.

Benny McCabe, who runs a network of 15 pubs in Cork, said if pubs are the last sector to reopen in a gradual and phased sector-by-sector re-opening of the economy, then "so be it".

He has also rubbished

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He branded the idea a "let them eat cake moment".

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