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No trips to the bar and no music - publicans' plans to reopen early

  • Vintners want June reopening
  • Drinkers will face restrictions

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A mural has been hung on the boarded up front of The Palace Bar in Dublin

A mural has been hung on the boarded up front of The Palace Bar in Dublin

A mural has been hung on the boarded up front of The Palace Bar in Dublin

The pub experience will be "dramatically" different post-crisis, according to representatives of bars as they published a new set of social distancing guidelines that may allow pubs to reopen sooner.

Pub representatives will urge Government officials to allow bars to reopen at the same time as restaurants and cafes, with a series of strict social distancing guidelines in place.

According to the Government's road map to reopening the country, pubs are to reopen in phase five on August 10.

However, cafes and restaurants will reopen under phase three, commencing June 29.

The Licensed Vintners' Association (LVA) and the Vintners' Federation of Ireland (VFI) have now joined forces to urge the Government to put forward pub reopening dates if publicans follow strict measures.

The measures are: dispense-only bars, with no sitting, standing, ordering, payment or drinking at the bar itself; customers seated at tables at all times, with table service provided.

Also no more than four people per every 10 sqm; a maximum of six people allowed at one table; customers using hand sanitiser before entry; staff to be trained to maintain a safe distance from customers when taking orders and washing hands every half-hour; outdoor spaces must "enhance" social distancing; no live music or DJs; safe use of toilets, which may include limits on the number of customers using toilets at any one time.

Gardai or the HSE will have the power to close any business flouting the health guidelines.

The LVA and the VFI believe that under these strict guidelines, pubs should be allowed to reopen on June 29 instead of August 10.

"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," said LVA chief executive Donall O'Keeffe.

He said that trading will be "extremely difficult" under these new guidelines and that the pub "experience" will drastically change.

"We are making a series of radical proposals to how bars should operate for the reopening scenario," Mr O'Keeffe said.

"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.

"However, for those who want to trade, these measures will have the essential impact of protecting the health and well-being of staff and customers alike."

VFI chief executive Padraig Cribben said that the roadmap as it stands is not "tenable".

Challenge

"Pubs across Ireland are up to that challenge and will do what is required for maintaining a safe and healthy place of business," he added.

Meanwhile, construction trade union Unite said that companies cannot be left to regulate themselves and called for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for all workers.

"A number of steps need to be taken to ensure that construction workers feel confident returning to work," said Unite regional officer Tom Fitzgerald.

"These include enforced social distancing, all necessary PPE available on an ongoing basis and sanitary facilities."