Publicans furious as re-openings are deferred

July 22nd, 2020 7:10 AM

By Kieran O'Mahony

Getting ready ahead of what they thought would be a re-opening of their Bandon pub this Monday, were Mark, Raymond and Dee O’Mahony under the supervision of their mum Margaret and ‘Ozzie’. But now the government has decided to postpone the re-opening of pubs until August 10th. (Photo: Denis Boyle)

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WEST Cork publicans have vented their anger at the decision to keep the pubs closed until August 10th.

Cllr Danny Collins, who owns the Boston Bar in Bantry, said he is ‘frustated and cross’ with the government decision to defer opening of pubs even further.

‘We were the first to close our doors back in March and now we find oursevles still closed. A lot of pub owners are now uncertain about their future and many have bills to pay,’ he added.

Cllr Collins, who said many publicans were now very annoyed by the situation,  said he had been working away getting his bar ready for opening for next Monday and criticised the government for the change of heart.

‘They seem to think we can’t run our businesses properly with guidelines in places,’ he added.

‘Yet there are house parties happening all over the region with no social distancing taking place and no controls. In rural Ireland our pubs run differently to city pubs and the government is going by what happened in Dublin two weeks ago.’

Earlier this week, publicans had said the lack of guidelines given in advance of any proposed re-opening was already causing a huge amount of concern.

The matter arose at a meeting of Cork County Council this week, when Cllr Collins had called for the urgent issuing of guidelines for pubs.

Pubs, which don’t serve food, were due to open on Monday July 20th as part of phase four of the lifting of Covid-19  restrictions.

One well-known Clonakilty bar, De Barra’s, had already announced that it would not be re-opening on Monday, because of the late issuing of guidelines. ‘We will continue to monitor, fret and plan with blindfolds on, and our hands behind our back,’ the bar posted on social media. ‘When we do re-open we will do safely and confidently with excellence and attention to detail.’

Speaking to The Southern Star, owner Ray Blackwell said: ‘How can anyone implement best practice in such a short space of time? There are also other issues involved, including getting staff, rostering staff and getting stock in. Nothing happens overnight and if you want to do anything well, you have to plan to do it and that’s our attitude with everything that we do.’

Ray said they are not the only ones suffering, as many other publicans find themselves in that scenario.

‘We are all trying to do our best and this is making a really difficult and anxious time more so and it’s just unfair.’

Cllr Danny Collins said that publicans are being treated like ‘rag dolls’ compared to other businesses. ‘I have been asked by publicans from towns and villages to highlight the way publicans are being treated out there,’ he said.

Cllr Collins said the ‘carry on’ in Dublin in recent weeks, with crowds drinking outside some pubs, doesn’t illustrate the way that pubs serving food in West Cork run their businesses who, he said, have acted in a very responsible way.

‘We see caravan parks, hotels, hostels, restaurants and coffee shops are open, but we are not being treated fairly whatsoever. Publicans are very responsible people – why are they being treated unfairly?’

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