Further delay to reopening of ‘wet pubs’ in Dublin labelled “completely unfair and unjustified”
“How can anyone put any faith in a government that just ignores its own commitments?”
The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) has hit out at the government’s decision to further delay the reopening of so-called ‘wet pubs’ in Dublin.
On Tuesday, the government announced details of a new five-level response to Covid-19, which included separate measures for Dublin on account of the rising number of cases in the capital in recent weeks.
Included in those measures was a stipulation that pubs and bars not serving food in Dublin should remain closed beyond 21 September, the date from which ‘wet pubs’ will be allowed reopen in all 25 other counties in the Republic of Ireland.
The decision has been described by the LVA as an “empty gesture”, “backed by hollow words from a Government that broke its commitment to non-food pubs again”.
“One week ago, the government had committed to not singling out the non-food pubs from other businesses, stating that if there were any regional restrictions it would affect other businesses and not solely pubs,” the LVA statement read.
“Yet seven days later, the government has ignored that commitment and has set out separate treatment for non-food pubs in Dublin who must remain closed despite the capital being kept at Level 2 in the Government’s new medium term strategy.
“The pubs who don’t serve food played no part in the rising level of infection in Dublin, yet pubs were the only businesses singled out in the ‘guidance’ provided by NPHET last week.”
Speaking at the announcement of the government plan, Minister for Health Simon Donnelly said that the guidance on ‘wet pubs’ was the “one exception” that applied to Dublin, which is currently at Level 2 status along with the rest of the country, despite additional measures having been put in place.
“The one exception is the ‘wet pubs’ and that really is less about creating a level two and a half and more about recognising that we are currently transitioning from one model to another,” Donnelly said.
Reacting to the decision on wet pubs, Chief Executive of the LVA Donall O’Keefe said that singling out pubs that do not serve food in Dublin from pubs that do serve food was “an arbitrary separation”. O'Keefe also called it “completely unfair and unjustified” and said it “will make zero impact on reducing the level of infection we are currently experiencing in Dublin”.
“This ongoing singling out of wet pubs is now being institutionalised in the latest so roadmap and is impossible for our members to understand and accept,” O’Keefe said.
“One week ago the government said that non-food pubs won’t be singled out if there are any regional restrictions. Then NPHET (National Public Health Emergency Team) says that they way to deal with infections which are mainly occurring in the home is to keep those pubs that have been shut for six months closed for even longer.
“NPHET says jump and the government leaps without looking. How can anyone put any faith in a government that just ignores its own commitments?”
“Where is the scientific justification for this decision?” O’Keefe added.
“This isn’t a remedy to the current increase in infections in Dublin. This has all the hallmarks of wanting to be seen to take action when in reality it does nothing to address the current problem. But it does have the impact of further penalising publicans, staff, suppliers and all their families. That is the one actual outcome that will come from this decision.
“This government and NPHET take zero action against those parts of society which have caused clusters such as meat factories or direct provision centres yet they continue to punish pubs whose doors have been kept shut for more than six months by order of the Government.
“Pubs are paying the price for the repeated shortfalls in the government’s capacity to handle this crisis.”
The impact of all five levels of the new government plan on pubs in Ireland can be seen here.