Vast majority of pubs "gangbusters ready to go" with trading past 8pm tonight 10 months ago

Vast majority of pubs "gangbusters ready to go" with trading past 8pm tonight

It is currently expected that normal hours for hospitality will return tomorrow.

The vast majority of pubs are "gangbusters ready to go" with trading past 8pm from Friday (21 January), according to the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA).

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The comments come following the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) giving approval on Thursday night for almost all Covid restrictions to be lifted at the discretion of the government.

This includes the scrapping of the use of the digital Covid pass for pubs and restaurants and the removal of the 8pm curfew on hospitality.

Cabinet are meeting on Friday afternoon to discuss the advice.

While multiple reports have stated that normal hours for the sector are expected to return from Saturday, Chief Executive of the LVA Donall O'Keeffe told RTÉ News at One that the organisation believes that the current curfew should be removed with "immediate effect".

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Speaking ahead of a meeting on Friday afternoon between hospitality sector representatives and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar following the Cabinet meeting, the Chief Executive said publicans will make every effort to trade late on Friday night if permitted.

"We're just anxious to move forward as fast as we can so we're good to go from this evening and we're really looking forward to a really positive optimistic announcement from the Taoiseach in that regard," he told the programme.

O'Keeffe was then asked what proportion of LVA members would be ready to extend past 8pm on Friday.

"I think the vast, vast majority of the bar trade, the drink side of the business, will be good to go to midnight or to full closing hours tonight," he said.

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"Food service might be slightly different but we are open as is so we are doing a lunch trade. We are doing an early evening sitting.

"And lots of businesses would be able to extend into a second sitting up to 10pm or 10.30pm.

"So, the vast majority will be good to go and the vast majority are gangbusters ready to go."

Earlier on Friday, the Tánaiste was asked if bars and restaurants might be able to stay open beyond 8pm from Friday night.

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"I'm not going to get into any of that... The Taoiseach will make an announcement at 6pm," he replied.

"Certainly, I think, the view across government is that if there's no longer a public health rationale for any particular restrictions, well then there's no political rationale for it either.

"But there are things that need to be worked out to make something that's currently illegal legal.

"[It] can require a bit of steer in order to be rescinded... We'll need to do a bit of work today on the timing."