PUBLICANS in Limerick have joined their colleagues across the country in urging the re-opening of bars at the same time as restaurants.
As part of the strategy to return Ireland to normality following the coronavirus outbreak, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced before the weekend that all going to plan, pubs will be able to open from Monday, August 10.
However, this is a full six weeks after restaurants and cafes are allowed to re-open under the plans.
Now, the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI), which represents publicans across the state, is preparing a plan which they hope could persuade government to allow them re-open at the same time as other eateries.
Local VFI spokesperson, Cllr Jerry O’Dea, who runs a bar in Mulgrave Street, says bar owners have proven they can be responsible with the immediate shutdown of pubs in March.
“As publicans we are bitterly disappointed to be treated differently to restaurants. We feel all hospitality businesses should be treated the same. More food is sold in pubs then in restaurants,” he said.
He believes the six-week time-gap will lead to many people heading into restaurants, ordering little food, and drinking “plenty of wine and beer.”
Cllr O’Dea did acknowledge for some pubs, operating with social distancing in place may prove economically unviable.
But he said, at least with government direction, any publican will be able to make up their own mind.
Mike McMahon, who runs Mother Mac’s in High Street said enforced social distancing may not only prove to be loss-making for his pub, but it might also harm the atmosphere in the landmark building.
“We are not about just serving alcohol. It's about the atmosphere, the camaraderie, the bit of banter. If that can't go on, the soul of the pub's not there. It's just another building,” he told Business Leader.
Mr McMahon doesn’t fear pubs being busy once the lockdown is lifted.
On the contrary, he feels people will be responsible and stay home.
”People will still be cautious. They'll still have a certain element of concern for their own health and wellbeing. in that respect, we as publicans have to weigh up the cost of opening against what we can turn over in that period. It's simple maths, and it may not add up,” he warned.
Video by David Hurley