Publicans say government “can’t hide behind NPHET” over decision to keep wet pubs closed 1 month ago

Publicans say government “can’t hide behind NPHET” over decision to keep wet pubs closed

It appears unlikely that wet pubs will be allowed to open for the remainder of 2020.

The government must take the responsibility for any move which will see wet pubs remain closed and restaurants and gastropubs allowed to reopen next month.

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That’s the message from the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA), who says that the government “can’t hide behind NPHET” if wet pubs remain closed while other parts of the hospitality sector are allowed to remain open, as is expected to be confirmed today.

The LVA said that “zero evidence” exists to prove that so-called ‘wet pubs’, pubs which do not serve food, carry a greater risk of the spread of Covid-19 than restaurants or gastropubs.

The LVA maintains that any “risk” posed by the reopening of hospitality venues is the same for all venues where alcohol is served, with zero distinction between them.

In a statement on Friday, the LVA also pointed out that the same limits on time that people are permitted to spend in these venues apply in wet pubs, gastropubs and restaurants.

The LVA added that the same social distancing requirements apply, that table service is also compulsory and that the Gardaí also have the same powers to shut down, on the spot, any of these venues found not to be complying with the regulations.

“The Government can’t hide behind NPHET now if they decide to single out the ‘wet’ pubs and keep them closed,” said Donall O’Keeffe, Chief Executive of the LVA.

“It will now be quite clear this is a decision that is only being made by members of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party and they will have to own that decision. NPHET didn’t tell them that only the ‘wet’ pubs should be kept closed. There is no evidence which exists that ‘wet’ pubs pose a greater risk than restaurants or gastropubs.”

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“We welcome restaurants and gastropubs being allowed to trade, but if the Government allows them to open while keeping the wet pubs closed, it will be exposed as simply their political choice,” O’Keefe added.

“And that is a choice the individual TDs in Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party can expect to pay their own political price for.”

The statement from the LVA comes after the Vintners' Federation of Ireland (VFI) this week accused NPHET of having an "anti-pub" agenda and said publicans felt demonised by government leaks to media about the fate of wet pubs once Level 5 restrictions are lifted.