Vintners Federation calls for sector to be opened together

ireland
A pub in Dublin, © PA Wire/PA Images
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Muireann Duffy

The Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) is calling for all pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes to be permitted to open at the same time when Level 5 restrictions are eased next month.

The VFI say 'wet pubs', which do not serve food, should be given the same opportunity to open as other businesses within the sector and allow staff to go back to work.

Earlier today, Taoiseach Micheál Martin confirmed that the country would move to Level 3 of the Government's Living with Covid Plan on December 1st as part of the easing of measures following a six-week lockdown.

However, it is yet unclear if pubs and restaurants will be permitted to reopen fully before Christmas.

The VFI added that in September, member of the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet), Dr Ronan Glynn said all pubs would be given the option to reopen at the same times once lockdown ended.

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The Restaurants Association has been involved in talk with the Government, saying daily case numbers need to drop to 200 in order for businesses to be given a real opportunity to reopen, according to their chief executive Adrian Cummins.

We know that socialising is going to take place. The key question for Government is will it be in a controlled environment?

Meanwhile, VFI chief executive Padraig Cribben says the data on Covid-19 shows that pubs are one of the lowest risk sectors in terms of the transmission of the virus.

"The evidence is clear that all hospitality outlets should be given the choice to open.

"The idea that non-food pubs should be forced to remain shut is a non-starter especially when you consider the Government’s own data that pubs are responsible for such a small number of outbreaks.

"As a sector, all we want is the opportunity to open and trade. It would be crazy to divide us again and it makes no sense given all we have learned about how to manage social distancing in pubs," Mr Cribben said.

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“While there is plenty of comment that restaurants will be permitted to open next week, we would remind Government that according to their own figures pubs are safer than restaurants.

"All we are saying is give pubs the opportunity to trade in a safe and secure manner.

"We know that socialising is going to take place. The key question for Government is - will it be safer in a controlled environment, with social distancing, mask wearing and proper hand sanitisation, like the pub, or in a private gathering where little of these precautions will be in place and where we know almost three quarters of all clusters emanate from?"

Mr Cribben added there are 50,000 staff in the sector waiting to hear if they can go back to work, saying they "need to be working in December to provide a reasonable Christmas for their families."

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