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Cautious Temple Bar publicans hold off reopening for now

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Pub bosses will assess demand before opening their shutters

Pub bosses will assess demand before opening their shutters

Pub bosses will assess demand before opening their shutters

It may be August before Dublin's hospitality hub of Temple Bar reopens fully amid "huge uncertainty" in the industry post-Covid.

Only a handful of venues in the Latin Quarter have opened their doors in recent weeks and most will be waiting until next month before they resume business as the sector's reopening meets with a mixed reaction.

There are mounting fears that phase four of the country's reopening roadmap on July 20 may be postponed amid concerns about the renewed spread of Covid-19.

About six venues in Temple Bar have reopened out of around 30 and most of those are attached to local hotels.

Despite all pubs being scheduled for reopening next week without having to serve food, publicans are opting to wait and see how much demand there is before pulling up the shutters for the first time since last March.

Temple Bar Company chief executive Martin Harte said many of its members will be holding off on reopening until around August.

Tumbleweed

"There's a huge degree of uncertainty in the industry and people are erring on the side of caution," he said.

"There was practically tumbleweed going through Temple Bar on Saturday night.

"I'm not sure if there's an appetite for reopening in the city. There's a lot of mixed messages out there and I think business owners want to wait and see what the Government say. There's going to be caution because if there is a big spike, everything will be delayed."

Scenes depicting large crowds of people gathering on the street drinking alcohol in places like Dame Lane only compounded the level of unease among bar owners.

"Any of the publicans I spoke to were very annoyed with seeing those images as it damages the entire industry," he said.

"They were really appalled with what was going on in Dame Lane, but it was a complex thing.

"People were drinking, takeaways as well as taking pints out of pubs and it was going on for weeks but suddenly it becomes a big thing.

"So there's a sense of nervousness around scenes like that. Everyone's concerned."

Huge challenges are now facing the industry, given the impact of Covid on the hospitality business, previously worth around €2bn to the Irish economy.

Tourist numbers have been decimated and hotel occupancy in Dublin city is only around 20 to 25pc, compared with 85 to 90pc on previous summers.

Huge numbers of people are also continuing to work from home, which means the footfall around the city centre has been significantly reduced and there is only a fraction of the usual numbers of people in the bars.