WATCH: Limerick publicans react to delay to next phase of loosening Covid-19 lockdown

PUBLICANS in Limerick have criticised the government following the latest delay to the re-opening of bars which do not serve food.

Yesterday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin confirmed pubs which do not serve food will not reopen as planned next Monday, as Phase Four of the reopening plan is delayed. 

And as fears of a second wave of Covid-19 grow, he also said he could not guarantee whether bars will even re-open in 2020.

Jason Kelly of the Still House bar in he has made many improvements to his Thomas Street pub to make it ready for re-opening.

"Anger, disappointment," was the reaction he had to Mr Martin's decree last night.

"We have families to provide for. It's an absolute joke. I think the real problem is the house parties and the clusters. Just look at what happened in Kilkee last weekend."

"Something needs to be done. The government needs to step in. Give us the opportunity to prove we can socially distance. We are the ones under the regulations," he said.

Due to the fact the bar has not opened since March, he has had to cut his sponsorship of various sports teams in Limerick.

"We just can't afford to do it at the moment. We had a lot planned for different clubs. We spoke to most of them before this Covid. We just cannot do it now. The government has really left us in the lurch".

Over at the Launch Bar in John's Street, its proprietor John Hickey said: "I feel we've just been cast aside. There is no support for us. Micheal Martin was asked about support and he glossed over it completely. People don't realise there is an ongoing cost to having a pub. Direct debits come out every week. It's got to the stage if this goes on much longer - and I'm sure other pubs are in the same boat - that we won't be able to re-open without help. It's just dire."

John added: "The government has basically said they don't trust us to re-open. That we won't be able to control our customers, that we won't be able to enforce social distance. I am confident given the opportunity that I could open safely. I have the respect of all my customers. We are just a regular pub."

He expressed concern for the future of musicians too.

"Let's not forget our musicians. They are in a more dire situation than we are. At least we will hopefully get to open. But I cannot see any light at the end of the tunnel for the musicians," he added.

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