Set out vaccine percentage necessary to allow pubs reopen, publicans say

ireland
Set Out Vaccine Percentage Necessary To Allow Pubs Reopen, Publicans Say Set Out Vaccine Percentage Necessary To Allow Pubs Reopen, Publicans Say
Deserted Temple Bar in Dublin’s city centre during the coronavirus lockdown, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By Michelle Devane, PA

The Government needs to outline what percentage of the population needs to be vaccinated before pubs will be allowed open, an Oireachtas committee has heard.

Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) chief executive Donall O’Keeffe said publicans have been “hit extraordinarily hard” since the onset of the pandemic.

The organisation, which represents publicans in Dublin, called for clarification on reopening dates and further financial supports for the sector.

Mr O’Keeffe said: “The LVA understands the specific reopening dates cannot be provided at this time.

“However, we are calling on the Government to publicly communicate the circumstances that must apply to allow the full reopening of the hospitality sector, and the trading environment post-reopening.

Will it be the case the pubs/hospitality can only reopen for vaccinated customers?

“What percentage of the adult population will need to be vaccinated to allow all pubs/hospitality businesses to reopen?

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“What level of community transmission will need to apply to allow our sector to reopen and will it be the case the pubs/hospitality can only reopen for vaccinated customers?”

372 days and counting

Mr O’Keeffe said that as of Tuesday, traditional pubs that do not serve food have been closed for 372 days and assuming a June reopening will have been closed for 15 months.

“They have also had to deal with the appalling “will they, won’t they reopen?” through several Nphet/Government review dates July-October of last year,” he said.

He also told the committee there was “no justification” for so-called wet pubs to be kept shut while pubs serving food are allowed open.

People walk past Sinnotts pub in Dublin’s city centre (Brian Lawless/PA Wire)

Mr O’Keeffe was among a number of representatives appearing before the Tourism Committee on Tuesday.

The committee also heard that half of all restaurants are on the brink of collapse because of a build-up of debt due to Covid-19.

Restaurants Association of Ireland chief executive Adrian Cummins said businesses are “treading water” and in need of additional Government support if they are going to survive the pandemic.

Mr Cummins urged a doubling of the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) payment to assist businesses because the grant only covers 50 per cent of businesses’ fixed costs.

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Mr Cummins said: “Businesses are treading water, and we’re pushing businesses into the liquidation zone and we can see from our own internal research and data that 50 per cent of businesses are on the brink of collapse because of outstanding build-up of debt that they’ve acquired over the last number of years.

“So [we need] a doubling of the CRSS, a restart grant, the commercial rate waiver has to go to the end of this year and the Vat rate (of nine per cent) until 2025.

“They’re the key ones that Government have to have policy-wise going forward.”

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