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Publicans say: ‘we are devastated’

July 6th, 2021 11:45 AM

By Kieran O'Mahony

Outdoor dining on Astna Square in Clonakilty, but indoor dining will have to wait a bit longer. (Photo: Andy Gibson)

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‘DEVASTATING’, ‘heart-breaking’ and ‘soul destroying’ were just some of the terms used by the hospitality sector in West Cork this week, reacting to the news that indoor dining has been indefinitely postponed.

Michael O’Donovan, city and county chairman of the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI), told The Southern Star that many publicans, inclulding himself, got kegs delivered on Monday.

‘Most members I spoke to were prepared to take a two-week postponement but to hear that there is no date now is really difficult,’ said Michael.

He said there is ‘huge disappointment’ and ‘frustration’ among his members as well as the added financial stresses.

‘We all have to pay for the stock we got in and we won’t get credit notes until August. It will have huge implications for many publicans. They are playing with people’s livelihoods.’

When bars and restaurants are eventually allowed to open indoors, staffing will also be an issue, he said. ‘Our members have hired staff who were expecting to start work next Monday and now there is a fear that many will leave the industry.’ Cllr Danny Collins, who runs ‘The Boston Bar’ in Bantry, said Tuesday’s news was ‘soul destroying’.

He also highlighted the fact that a number of publicans are paying large mortgages and the Covid Support Scheme ‘isn’t covering half of it’, which is forcing them to dig into their savings.

Martin Maybury of The Parkway Hotel in Dunmanway, which is commencing outdoor dining this Friday, said publicans and restaurateurs are frustrated.

He said he couldn’t see how a vaccine certification system could be policed, either.

Bernie O’Shea of An Chistín Beag in Skibbereen – who cannot cater for outdoor dining –  described as ‘disheartening’ the news that they can’t reopen next week.

‘I just wish they would let us know if we are opening at all this summer, and then we can get on with it. But the way they’re doing it now, we have no idea,’ said Bernie.

Fianna Fáil TD Christopher O’Sullivan said he is ‘heartbroken’ for the hospitality industry and said it is ‘another devastating blow’ to them after everything they have already endured.

And he added he is ‘firmly against’ any division between vaccinated and unvaccinated patrons. ‘It would be left to the hospitality sector to police it, and it is highly discriminatory,’ said Deputy O’Sullivan.

Deputy Holly Cairns (SD) described any vaccine-related reopening plan as ‘completely unworkable, totally unenforceable’ and raising serious legal and ethical issues.

Independent Deputy Michael Collins said the decision to postpone the re-opening of indoor hospitality is ‘another calamity’.

‘It is time for rigorous independent analysis of the Nphet projection model,’ said Deputy Collins.

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