Many rural communities awaiting access to pubs
3,438 pubs - 125 of those in Waterford - who are yet to reopen have called for the urgent publication of the reopening guidelines, according the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI).
Despite being due to open in just 11 days, on July 20, these pubs still don’t know how they will need to adapt their businesses to ensure they comply with the public health requirements.
The delay is also causing anxiety in some rural communities, with many of these unopened pubs serving as the only gathering locations or hospitality venues in their area.
According to the VFI, the majority of rural pubs are yet to open, particularly along the western seaboard. The county with the largest number of unopened pubs is Cork with 473, followed by Galway (273), Tipperary (223), Kerry (221), Mayo (Mayo 218) and Donegal (180).
According to Mayo publican Marie Mellett, owner of Mellett’s Bar in Swinford, the lack of guidelines is hampering preparations for reopening. “After placing public health first by agreeing to close our business over 120 days ago, we’re now crying out for the guidelines that will allow us reopen,” says Marie. “It’s a simple question: ‘where are the guidelines?’ We are literally just days away from July 20 but there is nothing from Government.
“For most rural pubs the bar counter is where all the action is, but we don’t even know if bar stools will be allowed. If they’re not, the impact on small pubs will be massive as many of our customers will only sit at the bar,” adds Marie.
Galway publican Joe Sheridan, who owns Walsh’s Bar in Dunmore, says he and his staff remain in limbo until the reopening guidelines are published. “I’m completely in the dark about how we should prepare the pub for reopening,” he says. “The guidelines are critically important for publicans who urgently need information about what work needs to be completed before we open.
“I also have staff wanting to know if they will be going back to work. The current situation is ludicrous and completely unfair to thousands of bar staff around the country and the local communities they serve. For most rural areas the pub is far more than a place to have a drink - it’s where local communities come together. This delay is placing so much of our local life in jeopardy and leaves many villages without lights.”
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