Perspex at the counter? How pubs will reopen was a hot topic on Claire Byrne Live

Perspex at the counter? How pubs will reopen was a hot topic on Claire Byrne Live
By Steve Neville

Phase 1 of the Government’s plan to reopen the economy and society came into effect on Monday.

Some shops, like hardware stores, and outdoor amenities have reopened their doors.

But on RTÉ’s Claire Byrne Live, the prospect of reopening pubs was a hot topic of discussion.

Bars and pubs are not due to reopen until August 10 under the Government’s plan.

On the show, they highlighted how a bar might work in Covid times, with people directing you to a seat and table service all expected to be in place when pubs do open up again.

But with many social distancing measures in place for the stores that did open on Monday, Claire Byrne asked publican Billy Keane and presenters Joe Duffy and Nuala Carey how pubs will be able to reopen.

“None of us know,” said Billy, when asked if social distancing can work in pubs.

“Some people are saying now that we should have perspex up at the counter.

“And you could get two or three to sit up at the bar maybe a metre or two metres apart.

“It's wrecking most of our heads in the pub business.

“We're there 75 years, our family, and I don't know will I be the last one or will we be able to open or will it be a success.

Billy said they “were hoping for a miracle.”

He added: “The publicans were famous for the poor mouth, but this really is it. It's life.

“It could be the end of the line for a lot of us.”

Trying to recreate how the pub might feel with social distancing in place in Fair CIty’s McCoy’s, Nuala said the social aspect is something the people miss most from the pubs.

Joe Duffy added that he thinks we’re in Aslan country: "This is a Crazy World.”

He said : “Unless you are coming with your crossword and your game of Boggle and all you want to do is sit in the corner on your own, people won't come [to the pub].

“This is worse than I thought it was going to be. I hadn't imagined it like this.

"I knew there was going to be distance, but I thought it would be much more intimate and you could have a conversation, but you can't.

“You can't. You can't really have a conversation unless you bellow."

Joe added that he asked his children if they’d go to their local when it reopens.

He said they would love to but they said they would hold off as they didn’t want to bring disease back into the house.

Nuala added that she would make a beeline for a beer garden if she was to go back to the pub.

“Obviously social distancing is a little bit easier outside,” she said.

But she added: "Nobody has mentioned, which obviously if you’re drinking, the one place I would be trying to avoid is the toilet.

There’s too many door handles, taps… It’s a minefield.

Billy said that even complying with all the social distancing, maintaining it after people have had a few drinks will be difficult.

Joe highlighted the advantage of being able to observe other countries who are already easing restrictions.

“We’ll know by the time we are due to reopen whether it’s less risky than we thought.”

Nuala said that pubs reopening would give people a boost.

“It gives us all a message and it gives us hope that we’re on a stepping stone to some kind of normality.”

Billy stated: “A lot of us would just like to break even for the year, until it comes back.

“Just keep the name over the door, keep people coming in.

“But I don’t know if we’ll manage it.”

He added: “We will come back. And we’ll have great times again.”