Reopening decision a ‘make or break’ moment for publicans

There is frustration among publicans abiding by Covid-19 regulations as they wait for an answer on their reopening after being shut for 140 days.

Publicans say they have been left without any Government support as they watch other businesses reopen, with no clarity on their proposed August 10th reopening.

A Waterford pub owner says they have been treated with “no respect” and that there is little logic in only allowing premises serving food to reopen.

Norris’s Bar on Barrack Street, Waterford, has announced it will reopen next Monday regardless of the Government decision.

Empty pubs didn’t cause the recent spike in cases – that just proves that pubs haven’t been responsible for a lot of this.

“Hopefully they give us the go-ahead as a pub... if they don’t, we’re going to have to follow the rest of them and go down the food route. We’ve got no choice – we just can’t afford to stay closed any longer,” says owner Martin Colbert.

Mr Colbert says watching other businesses reopen has been frustrating: “We can operate as safe as any other premises that’s open at the moment.”

“There’s certain other publicans giving us all a bad image, because they’re open at the moment and they’re not following the guidelines. And when you go in and see those particular pubs, how they’re operating, I have to say to myself, ‘why am I closed.’”

“Empty pubs didn’t cause the recent spike in cases – that just proves that pubs haven’t been responsible for a lot of this.”

The pub announced its reopening on social media where it received supportive comments from many of its followers.

Mr Colbert says Government should take a more targeted approach with a selective reopening: “There’s very, very few cases in Waterford.”

“[They’re] completely ignoring the fact that a lot of rural pubs, non-Dublin pubs, are well able to control themselves, and we’re not always packed out like pubs in Temple Bar that led to probably the closure in the first place.”

'Make or break' decision

Meanwhile, the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) has called for Government to open pubs in what they describe as a “make or break” decision.

It says that with most pubs now closed for 140 days, it is a “now or never” moment for many publicans, who feel used as a “messaging tool” to capture public attention and deter complacency.

“This approach is highly disrespectful to publicans, their families and the 25,000 staff anxiously waiting to find out if they have a job to go back to next Monday,” says VFI chief executive Padraig Cribben.

VFI says any further delay will require a substantial compensation package for publicans, who will otherwise remain permanently closed.