'Government can't hide behind Nphet now': Vintners say no evidence 'wet' pubs carry greater risk

Restaurant owners are calling for clear and concise guidelines as soon as possible from the Government so they can open safely.
'Government can't hide behind Nphet now': Vintners say no evidence 'wet' pubs carry greater risk

Donall O’Keeffe, Chief Executive of the LVA, said the same regulations apply in 'wet' pubs such as time limits, social distancing requirements and compulsory table service

A decision to separate 'wet' pubs and gastro pubs will be a political decision that is not backed up by any evidence, the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) has said.

According to the representative body, there is no evidence that 'wet' pubs carry a greater risk than other hospitality venues such as restaurants or gastropubs.

It said any risk is the same for all venues where alcohol is served and gardaí have the same powers to shut down any venue that is not complying with regulations.

Donall O’Keeffe, Chief Executive of the LVA, said the same regulations apply in 'wet' pubs such as time limits, social distancing requirements and compulsory table service.

"The Government can’t hide behind Nphet now if they decide to single out the ‘wet’ pubs and keep them closed," said Mr O'Keeffe.

"It will now be quite clear this is a decision that is only being made by members of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party and they will have to own that decision.

Nphet didn’t tell them that only the ‘wet’ pubs should be kept closed.

Mr O'Keeffe said the choice to allow restaurants and gastropubs to trade while keeping 'wet' pubs closed is one individual TDs in Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party can expect to pay a political price for.

Meanwhile, the owners of a number of well-known restaurants in Dublin are calling for clear and concise guidelines as soon as possible from the Government so they can open safely.

Sally Ann Clarke of L’Ecrivain told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that they have full bookings from December 1, the date on which level 5 restrictions were due to be lifted.

"We need to know as soon as possible so we can let suppliers know and reschedule bookings if we can’t open on the first.” 

Damien Allen, proprietor of The Orange Goat restaurant in Ballsbridge, echoed the call for clear and concise guidelines.

He also opened a second premises in Killester during the pandemic which has focused on takeaways while refurbishments have been completed.

The changed commercial market meant there were more favourable rates which promoted him to open the second outlet.

“We had tremendous support from the locals and we remain positive about getting people indoors.” 

Ms Clarke pointed out that earlier in the year when restrictions were first introduced in restaurants customers knew what they could and could not do “and it worked very well. People were happy with that.” 

There were screens between tables and tables were staggered.

“People felt safe and it was good to be out.” 

 Reacting to a suggestion that the amount of time that people could be in a restaurant could be reduced to one hour (from one hour 45 minutes), Ms Clarke said that would not be feasible in L'Ecrivain as it was not a casual dining space.

Mr Allen said it would be very difficult to “make it work” with fewer than 15 customers in his restaurant.

Under Covid restrictions his restaurant in Ballsbridge could seat 20 at any time and the Killester premises could seat 30.

Ms Clarke said that restaurants were good at policing the guidelines and that the public understood they could not move about as they would have done previously.

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