WITH ‘wet pubs’ – those serving drink but not food – being kept closed over the Christmas period, which is traditionally their busiest time of year, it is little wonder that publicans are angry. In Dublin, such pubs have not been allowed to open since the middle of March last.
The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) says the decision to keep pubs closed while allowing food premises to re-open ‘highlights a stunning act of government hypocrisy’ and treats publicans as ‘second-class citizens.’
Over 22,000 people in the trade will now continue on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment over Christmas and well into the new year. Publicans themselves strongly believe that, because both pubs and restaurants are defined as controlled environments, all outlets should have the opportunity to trade and the VFI maintains there is scant logic in permitting one type of venue to open but not the other.
In small rural communities, pubs are often the main social hub and their loss through enforced closure – apart from a brief few weeks in early autumn – is being keenly felt in more isolated areas especially. Closures have gone on so long that some publicans may just decide never to re-open, while others are waiting for a vaccine to provide herd immunity that would give them a decent shot at re-establishing their businesses – but that is still quite a way off.