The hospitality sector is urging the Government to allow it to fully reopen after Ireland exits its second lockdown on December 1.
The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) wants the sector to be given the opportunity to open together, after rumours circulated that wet pubs would remain shut.
"The idea that non-food pubs should be forced to remain shut is a non-starter, especially when you consider the Government’s own data that pubs are responsible for such a small number of outbreaks," says Padraig Cribben, Chief Executive of the VFI.
“We have 50,000 staff waiting this week to find out if they can go back to work. They need to be working in December to provide a reasonable Christmas for their families and are surely entitled to that as a minimum, after the best part of nine months on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment,” Mr Cribben says.
The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA), which represents pubs in Dublin, says some iconic Dublin pubs have been closed for 253 days, including Grogans, McDaids and O’Donoghues. In the capital, wet pubs were never allowed to reopen.
The LVA has slammed the idea that wet pubs will remain shuttered, saying that the infamous Berlin D2 bar, which was the subject of anger over the breaking of Covid guidelines, will be allowed to trade again as it operates under a restaurant licence.
"[A recent] HIQA report doesn’t show any evidence that ‘wet’ pubs pose a greater risk than restaurants, while the Government’s own guidelines acknowledge wet pubs and restaurants as being 'controlled environments'," says Donall O’Keeffe, Chief Executive of the LVA.
"Yet if current media reports are to be believed then the Government is gearing up to punish the pubs that have remained closed for the last eight months.
"Such an approach would strike us as a very obvious and discriminatory restraint of trade position if it were to be adopted by the Government. It is also a position that the pub trade can never accept,” Mr O’Keeffe said.
Meanwhile, the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) has called for the inter-county travel restrictions to be scrapped, and has also asked the Government to allow indoor dining for hotels.
"Public health is the number one priority for hotels, and this is reflected in the statistics from the HPSC, which show that hotels have been associated with very few clusters (0.14%) since March," says Tim Fenn, IHF chief executive.
"This five-week trading period around Christmas can act as a life buoy in terms of sustaining many hotels for the early few months of next year so it is imperative for hotels to be able to open as fully as possible for the benefit of their guests and their teams."