Publicans call for clarity on reopening dates

Publicans call for clarity on reopening dates
The National Public Health Emergency Team has expressed concern to Government about the scheduled reopening of all bars next week.

Much of the concern, which was confirmed by Government sources tonight, stems from the fact that a significant number of young people have got the virus in recent weeks.

The move to Phase 4 of the easing of Covid-19 restrictions is scheduled to take place on Monday, but it must first get Cabinet approval.

The matter is set to be discussed by Government at a meeting tomorrow evening.

The final phase would also allow for gatherings of up to 100 people indoors and 500 people outdoors.

Earlier, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said a decision on allowing pubs, nightclubs and casinos to reopen would be made by Cabinet tomorrow evening following advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team.

He told the Dáil that this would give the sectors a few days to prepare.

There had been an uptick in the number of new Covid-19 cases, he said, but that the rise had not been big enough to prevent a move to stage four of lifting of restrictions.

Pubs come under Phase 4 of the easing of coronavirus restrictions, which if given the go-ahead, will begin on 20 July. Acting Chief Medical Officer Ronan Glynn yesterday said that it was still too early to say whether Phase 4 would go ahead.

Less than a week out from the scheduled final phase of the Government’s reopening plan, publicans had said they had yet to receive guidelines for premises that do not serve food and were worried they will not be able to reopen.

For publican Michael Mooney, who owns the Slieve Rossa pub in Cavan Town, it is a precarious situation.

“I stand here six days away from opening, hopefully, but I’ve no guidelines. I’ve deliveries coming now, they’re coming since yesterday. It’s money going out and we need to know when there’s money coming in.”

“There’s been absolutely zero guidance. The safety of our customers is paramount but we know nothing at the moment. We’ve sanitised the place and we’ll be ready to open on Monday if we can,” he said.

“Publicans in Cavan Town have been ringing each other and none of us have the answers,” he said.

Michael Mooney said all publicans want is a decision on whether the pubs will reopen next week.

“I can’t tell the staff that we’re back open Monday. It’s ridiculous so hopefully we get some answers soon,” he said.

“We need to be treated with a bit of respect and we need to be told whether we’re opening Monday. That’s the big question and it’s one that needs to be answered straight away,” he added.

In Arva, on the Cavan/Longford border, publicans are also getting ready.

Nicky O’Hara runs the family pub O’Hara’s on Main Street. With days to go, he is still unsure if he will have customers back next week.

“Today for instance would have been my day to order from the cash and carry. But I couldn’t order because I don’t know if we’ll be open,” he said.

“If we need to put up partitions or screens, the work has to be done and realistically trying to get it done for Monday is going to be extremely hard done,” he added.

Publicans like Nicky O’Hara say they just want to know when first orders can be called.

“Just give us a straight answer, yes you can open or no, we’re extending it on until August,” he said.

Additional reporting Sinead Hussey

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