Representatives for the pub industry have accepted an invitation to meet with the government to discuss the government roadmap to reopen the country from COVID-19 lockdown as well as its implications for public houses.
The representatives are the Licensed Vintners’ Association (LVA) and the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI). They plan to press for the reopening of pubs to happen in the same time frame as cafes and restaurants.
Recognising the challenge of maintaining social distancing in a hospitality environment, the organisations will also be putting forward radical changes to the normal operations of bars in order to protect public health.
These measures include:
- Bars will become dispense bars only with no sitting, standing, ordering, payment or drinking at the bar allowed;
- Table service will be a requirement with pubs only serving customers seated at tables;
- The numbers on the premises would be confined to no more than 4 per every 10 square metres;
- A maximum of 6 people would be permitted at any one table;
- Customers will be required to use hand sanitiser upon entry;
- All customers must remain seated;
- Staff will be fully trained in the new procedures. They will also be asked to maintain a safe distance from customers when taking orders and to wash their hands thoroughly every 30 minutes;
- The utilisation of outdoor spaces to enhance social distancing;
- Procedures implemented to ensure the safe use of toilet facilities, which may include limits on the numbers using toilets at any one time;
- No live music or DJs;
- Gardaí/HSE will have the power to close any business who is flouting public health guidelines.
Strict protocols on how staff and customers must adhere to social distancing in the hospitality industry will be developed in conjunction with the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) and the Department of Health. Those protocols would apply to all hospitality businesses.
Speaking about the proposed measures, Donall O’Keeffe, Chief Executive of the LVA said: “We fully respect the need to continue to protect the public health. We have repeatedly proven this commitment, not least in the fact that our sector was the first to close across the country.
“We also believe that if other venues who serve food and alcohol are allowed to reopen in Phase 3, then pubs should be granted the same opportunity to trade. We don’t believe it is in any way appropriate that the government should apply one rule for some hospitality businesses and another rule for others.”
“We are making a series of radical proposals to how bars should operate for the reopening scenario. Trading will be extremely difficult under these circumstances. There is no doubt that the pub experience as we know it will have to change dramatically,” Mr O’Keeffe said.
Chief executive of the VFI, Padraig Cribben, said, “What is clear is that the current roadmap plan isn’t tenable and will lead to confusion in the hospitality sector if it is not addressed.”
“The public health restrictions will present real challenges to all hospitality venues, it doesn’t matter if they are a pub, a restaurant, a café or a hotel. There is no denying that and there is no getting around it.”
“Addressing those public health requirements will be necessary for all hospitality businesses whenever they reopen. Pubs across Ireland are up to that challenge and will do what is required for maintaining a safe and healthy place of business,” Mr Cribben concluded.