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'It's the end of us', warn pubs over 2m ruling

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Pub owner Ronan Lynch

Pub owner Ronan Lynch

Pub owner Ronan Lynch

Ireland's pubs say they face ruin unless the Government eases one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe, under which they can only reopen in August and must keep drinkers two metres apart.

For Ronan Lynch, owner of The Swan - a small, Victorian pub typical of many in central Dublin - a relaxation of the guidelines will be the difference between reopening or not.

"We're at the periphery of Europe with a peripheral view of the two-metre rule," said Mr Lynch.

"No business can operate at 25pc capacity. It just doesn't stack up."

Bars and restaurants in Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Germany have reopened with looser one to 1.5-metre guidelines.

Capacity

Operators in the Czech Republic, Switzerland and Iceland have stuck to the two-metre rule but have had the benefit of being open since May to try to salvage some of the busy summer season.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has suggested a possible halving of the social-distancing measure and a speeding up of one of Europe's most conservative reopening plans if virus cases remain under control.

Mr Lynch, who is the chairman of Dublin's Licensed Vintners Association (LVA), said permitting one metre between patrons would boost his capacity to 40-50pc, about 100 drinkers. Research carried out for the LVA found capacity could drop as low as 12.5pc for some without any change.

An easing would still leave pubs and restaurants needing further State support, said Mr Lynch, but would give them a chance of surviving into 2021 when the Government hopes a vaccine can bring an end to social distancing.