Varadkar hints at support package for pubs

The reopening of pubs has been delayed twice due to concerns regarding the spread of Covid-19.

Tánaiste Leo Vardakar has said he would like to have a financial support package for pubs and nightclubs ready at the end of the month if the decision is made to keep businesses in those sectors closed.

The reopening of nightclubs and pubs that do not serve food has been delayed twice, this time until August 31st.

The decision was made to delay the reopening due to concerns about the rising number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the Republic.

Mr Varadkar has warned some sectors may not be able to open again for many months.

If the Government decides to delay the reopening further, Mr Vardakar is hopeful that a financial support package can be put in place to aid businesses which have been forced to remain shut since mid-March.

"If it is a case that we are saying on the 28th of August that you cannot reopen, I would like to be in the position, at the same Cabinet meeting, to have a package of additional financial supports for pubs and nightclubs, recognising that they are sectors that have been ordered by Government to stay closed longer than everyone else."

Lengthy closure

Pubs closed their doors back in March, just before St Patrick's day as the number of cases of Covid-19 in Ireland began to rise.

As the spread of the virus slowed and sectors of the economy began to reopen, restaurants and pubs which served food were permitted to open on June 29th.

The guidelines for the reopening of these businesses stated that customers must purchase a 'substantial meal', worth more than €9 and must limit their stay to under two hours.

It's using pubs as almost collateral damage to send a message.

Since the introduction of these guidelines, gardaí have been carrying out inspections around the country, finding some businesses to be breach of the guidelines, mainly by not being able to prove that a meal had been purchased with drink or due to lack of social distancing.

The remainder of pubs were originally due to reopen on July 20th, which was pushed back to August 10th, before again being delayed to August 31st.

The Vintners Federation of Ireland has criticised the decision to keep some pubs closed, saying it was unfair that the Government was using pubs to send a Covid safety message.

"Just before July 20th, there was a spike in numbers, which was down to house parties and travel and the Government decided then to keep pubs closed as a means of sending a message to the public," said VFI Chief Executive, Padraig Cribben.

"We believe that is unfair. It's using pubs as almost collateral damage to send a message when they should be tackling the issues that are there."