Irish publicans feel “demonised” by government leaks, accuse NPHET of having “anti-pub agenda”
“It’s difficult to overstate how angry publicans are right now.”
The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) has hit out at speculation surrounding the possible reopening of pubs next month, saying it is “further proof that Government and its NPHET partners will stop at nothing to grind our sector into the ground”.
Reports on Wednesday suggested that, should Level 5 restrictions be lifted as expected next week, that pubs will only be allowed to serve customers indoors if they have a kitchen and a chef on site.
The government is expected to provide further guidance on the exiting of Level 5 restrictions this coming Friday. It has been speculated that restaurants, along with shops and churches, may be permitted to open from next week, but that so-called ‘wet pubs’ that don’t serve food will remain closed.
Such speculation about the fate of pubs without clarification, the VFI says, is “demonising a trade that is now fighting for it’s very survival”.
“Since early March, publicans have acted responsibly and done everything asked of them, including closing their businesses, introducing strict social distancing protocols, training staff and reducing capacity in venues,” read a strongly-worded VFI statement issued on Wednesday.
“It would appear all this work is to no avail as Government briefs journalists that so-called ‘wet’ pubs will not reopen while pubs serving food must now take on extra regulations simply to get their doors open.”
“It’s difficult to overstate how angry publicans are right now,” said Padraig Cribben, VFI Chief Executive.
“They feel demonised by the leaks coming from Government, that no matter what regulations and guidelines they implement it won’t be enough for NPHET, who clearly have an anti-pub agenda.
“The facts are clear, pubs are safer than restaurants according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC). The Government’s reopening guidelines recognise both pubs and restaurants as ‘controlled environments’, so there is no logic for allowing restaurants open and refusing pubs the same right.”
Cribben singled out Taoiseach Micheál Martin for criticism, asking: “What does it say about Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s attitude to pub-goers that he’s happy to trust restaurant owners and their customers yet, for some inexplicable reason, doesn’t think publicans and their patrons are deserving of trust?”
“This attitude to publicans and their customers is appalling and will lead to great distress and unrest among our members,” Cribben added.
“In splitting the hospitality sector in half, into winners and losers, the Taoiseach is playing with fire. Even at this late stage we ask him to make the common sense decision to allow all pubs reopen like the rest of the hospitality sector.”