Martin Harley, treasurer of the Donegal branch of the Vintners' Federation of Ireland (VFI), said that while the decision not to reopen so-called wet pubs was not unexpected, it was the wrong move
The Vintners' Federation of Ireland in Donegal has condemned the decision to only allow pubs that serve their own food to open.
Restaurants and pubs that have a kitchen and serve food can reopen on Friday, December 4 under new guidelines to leave Level 5 restrictions. There will be new distances between tables in premises and the time customers can stay will be reduced.
Martin Harley, treasurer of the Donegal branch of the Vintners' Federation of Ireland (VFI), said that while the decision not to reopen so-called wet pubs was not unexpected, it was the wrong move.
There are over 360 pubs in Donegal with about 80% of them unable to reopen, Mr Harley said.
The owner of the Cheers bar in Ballybofey, who is also a member of Donegal County Council, said each bar should have been able to make a decision to open or close.
Allowing all bars to open would spread custom around and would have been a better option, he said.
“I had hoped they would have opened all pubs. I think we should have learned from the first lockdown - that a €9 isn’t going to keep the virus away from you,” he said.
“ I fee that if people want to go out, and there is only a few places open, then those places are going to be packed, and the virus will spread quicker. If all the places were open, people would be more spread out. To me, that’s the common sense approach.
“So-called wet pubs are abiding by the guidelines as well as anyone and can do social distancing as good as any other premises. I think it is the wrong move. It should have been done differently - either open the whole lot or open nothing.”
Padraig Cribben, VFI chief executive, said it is now a widespread belief amongst publicans that so-called wet pubs may not reopen until a vaccine achieves herd immunity.
“The trade has experienced a series of ever-deepening depressions over the past nine months but this latest decision by Government to keep pubs closed while the rest of the hospitality sector reopens is the worst by far. The Taoiseach said he is trusting business owners and customers to act responsibly when the country reopens next week but his message to publicans is ‘we don’t trust you’,” he said.
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