'They think they know better': Aggressive punters expect publicans to break the rules 

'They think they know better': Aggressive punters expect publicans to break the rules 

Pat Crotty, the owner of Paris Texas, says his bar is regularly inspected by the Gardaí, who want to see contact tracing details, good social distancing, as well as limited numbers at tables. Picture: Conor McCabe Photography.

Publicans have pleaded with members of the public to stop asking staff to break Covid-19 guidelines.

They have also called for the pub time limit to be reviewed, to discourage pub crawls. 

Pat Crotty, of Paris Texas pub in Kilkenny, says his employees have dealt with customers who have tried to get around the guidelines, such as trying to stay on past an allocated time or requesting to sit at another table to facilitate a bigger group.

"People think there is a way around the guidelines, but we can't facilitate them. You have customers saying 'why can't you do this for me?'.

"People know the rules at this stage, and they are only making life hard for the staff. 

Some customers can get aggressive.

"The staff don't make the rules, they are just trying to work them as best they can. People can be very obtuse, they think they know better."

Mr Crotty says Paris Texas is regularly inspected by the Gardaí, who want to see contact tracing details, good social distancing, as well as limited numbers at tables.

He welcomed the news that pubs who don't serve food will reopen on September 21, and is hopeful this will mean his later bookings won't have to order a substantial meal with their pint.

"We have lost our drink trade. Our costs are based on having a certain amount of food trade as well as bar trade. The busiest time for us would have been Friday and Saturday nights from 10pm-12am, but we don't have that anymore. Once the food is over, it's over."

Paris Texas has 25 metres of bar counter, which Mr Crotty would like to see used. 

"I don't see why bar counters can't be used, with screens in front of the bar, and customers being divided off." 

He has already created snugs in his pub and installed screens in between parts of the counter.

"If the counter is not used, I don't see how the smaller [wet] pubs, with little room for tables, will be able to operate."

"I don't see why bar counters can't be used, with screens in front of the bar, and customers being divided off." - Pat Crotty, the owner of Paris Texas. Picture: Conor McCabe Photography.
"I don't see why bar counters can't be used, with screens in front of the bar, and customers being divided off." - Pat Crotty, the owner of Paris Texas. Picture: Conor McCabe Photography.

Time limits are another concern for him. 

"It promotes pub crawls. 

"If you have a person in one group who is infected, they are going to be going to multiple pubs, instead of staying in one place where the infection is at least managed. Surely it would be safer to keep them in one pub."

The return of GAA, rugby and soccer matches will only amplify this, with sports fans dashing from pub to pub to watch various different games, he said.

Conor O'Neill, who runs The Glyde Inn in Annagassan in Louth, says customers found the new guidelines very hard at the start.

"We would have regular customers who would come in for a pint during the day, and they would sit or stand at the bar and chat with the staff.

"They found the new guidelines very hard to adjust to. They might live alone, and now they have to have something to eat, sit in the lounge, without the craic."

Mr O'Neill says some customers at the start tried to argue that the guidelines weren't set in law. 

"But we have to adhere to them."

The Glyde Inn also has a special website and app where customers can order and pay from, which about 70% of customers use. 

However, some negative reviews said that the customer service just wasn't the same. 

"Some said we were turning into Wetherspoons, and asked where has Irish customer service gone," says Mr O'Neill.

However, customers who don't want to use the app can order from regular sanitised menus. 

"It is a complete culture change, but people are expecting these changes now."

He would also welcome customers being allowed to sit at the bar, as long as social distancing was in place and there were screens between the staff and customers.

Mr O'Neill believes the time limit restrictions will be more difficult for 'wet pubs' to enforce.

"It is difficult for us at the minute with food, but I imagine it is going to be twice as difficult for them. If people are given an hour and a half to drink, they are going to drink as much as they can, and how do you stop them? 

"How do you tell people to diplomatically leave once their time is up?"

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