Varadkar: 'I'd love to go to the pub ... but they're not as important as schools'

Varadkar: 'I'd love to go to the pub ... but they're not as important as schools'
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar says he "hopes" he will have an additional financial package for pubs if they cannot reopen on August 31.

The Tánaiste says he "hopes" he will have an additional financial package for pubs if they cannot reopen on August 31.

Leo Varadkar said the focus remains on reopening schools, and there is a possibility that pubs may be ordered to remain closed for another few months.

"What we're trying to do here is manage risk, is to minimize the extent the virus is circulating in the community," he said.

"I'd love to go to the pub, I'd love to be in the pub again, but they're not as important as schools.

"The vast majority of people in society would accept that children need to go back to school for education and families getting back into a routine, is an economic and social priority for us. 

"Kids have lost 3-4 months of school, they can recover from that, but any more would have serious social and economic consequences and that's why these kinds of decisions have to be made.

"I've met with publicans and groups, and in some ways they're being asked to make a sacrifice for society and they are getting financial support.

"They do benefit from restart grants, the rebate schemes, but what they're saying to us if they're not able to reopen on 31st August they will need additional financial support so that they will still be there if we are able to open, whenever that is."

Publicans have been pressing the Government to provide a bespoke support package for pubs who are unable to open due to the public health circumstances.

As pubs are being treated differently to other sectors of the economy, the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) and Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) want to see funding provided to all pubs who are being asked to stay closed due to the public health requirements.

"I always think we need to be flexible in our response to the pandemic and the economic crisis it caused," Mr Varadkar added.

"We don't know yet when pubs will be allowed to open so it is my view that those sectors that have been closed or effectively closed by the pandemic will need extra care attention and support because we want them to still be there when we get through this and that means particular tailored solutions and that's the kind of thing we're working on between now and the budget.

"I want to have an answer for them by August 31st, but I can't make unilateral decisions or announcements anymore, I have to speak to my colleagues," he added.

"If it is the case that on 28th August we say pubs have to stay closed longer, I'd like to be in a position at cabinet to propose additional support for pubs and nightclubs, recognizing they are the sector ordered to stay closed by government."

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