High and dry!

Local publicans ‘left in limbo’ following reopening delay

Publicans and restaurant owners in Roscommon say they have been left in limbo following the Government’s decision to delay the reopening of indoor hospitality to July 19th at the earliest.

David Regan of Regan’s Gastro Pub and Restaurant in Roscommon town said the delay was extremely disappointing.

“We are gutted to be honest that we can’t reopen. We have been closed since before Christmas because we don’t have any outdoor dining facilities to avail of. It’s been very difficult for our team, our customers and for ourselves, both financially and mentally,” he said.

David said Regan’s had abided by all public health guidelines when allowed to reopen last year and said that socialising was safer in a controlled environment.

“We monitored customers here before Christmas when the arrived and we kept track of phone numbers and ensured there was no interaction between different tables. It is a controlled environment and far safer than say house parties or similar social events.

“Unfortunately we are at a disadvantage without outdoor facilities and we area totally reliant on indoor dining. There are double standards at play though when people can pay money to stay at a hotel and eat and drink indoors. The risk factors are the same so it flies in the face of what we are doing here”.

David also said that only allowing vaccinated customers to socialise indoors would be unworkable and that young staff members would still be at risk.

“There would be a huge risk on the shoulders of staff. We couldn’t run this place without students and we have a large number of staff in their 20s and younger. It would be putting them at risk and wouldn’t be fair to expect them to work indoors when not permitted to socialise in the same setting,” he said.

David was unconvinced that reopening would take place by July 19th, saying the situation was still from certain.

“July 19th is not a date for reopening, a vaccine passport will probably dictate the new date but where does that leave us?

“This virus hasn’t gone away and a new variant is other there. The last thing any of us want is another wave come September or October but we do need some clearer communication when it comes to reopening,” he said.

Chairperson of the Roscommon Town and District branch of the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland, Larry Brennan, said the delay was not unexpected but has left publicans and restaurant owners in limbo.

“The most disappointing thing about this from a publican’s point of view is that the Government haven’t given us a definite date for reopening,” he said.

“Obviously we want to comply with public health guidelines and not risk another peak in this virus but we have been left in limbo without a confirmed date for reopening.

“We would have been happier if they put it back to August when a large percentage of the population will be vaccinated. Anyone who is tuned in to this situation knows that we are unlikely to reopen on July 19th.

“July 5th was never going to go ahead but the last thing we wanted was to be left in limbo,” he concluded.