Table service to remain until 2022
16 pubs have closed in County Roscommon since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic while nationally, 349 premises have shut down according to recent figures published by the Revenue Commissioners.
Both the VFI and LVA claim the revelation of a 5 per cent drop in pub licence renewals is a dramatic escalation in the crisis faced by pubs, as this week the Government confirmed that table service will be maintained as part of the latest easing of restrictions.
The Vintners Federation of Ireland described this week’s announcement as a “devastating blow” to the sector.
VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribben said: “The Government decision to keep restrictions in place until February at the earliest is another devastating blow to the pub trade. Over 92 per cent of people are vaccinated so we could have easily removed mandatory table service by limiting entry to customers with vaccine passes. Instead, Government has guaranteed the closure of more pubs over the coming months.
“The return of normal trading hours is simply a fig leaf for the fact bar counters remain off limits. This restriction alone will mean pubs can’t operate at full capacity and will make continued trading impossible for many of our members.
“We also have to contend with the glaring anomaly of nightclubs reopening where, according to the Taoiseach, people will be permitted to dance while customers in pubs won’t be allowed sit at the bar counter.
“The pub trade has battled with uncertainty since March 2020 and today’s news will only deepen the worry for publicans and their staff. In a sector that is struggling to find and retain employees these developments will only exacerbate staffing problems.
“We thought this crisis was coming to an end on Friday but now face the prospect of severely curtailed trading through the busiest period of the year. Government cannot allow the sector to limp on in this fashion and must come back with a concrete plan for the pub trade,” Mr. Cribben concluded.