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Pubs expecting lasting hangover

Wednesday, 9th September, 2020 3:20pm

A Cork publican has welcomed the decision to open Irish pubs later this month but said that trust has been broken between publicans and the Government.

Cork City chairperson of the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) Michael O’Donovan told the paper that the fallout from Covid-19 could have a lasting effect on relations between publicans and the Government, but that now is a time to look forward and remain positive.

“Trust has been broken. There's no doubt about that. They didn't trust us to open by giving us a date before now. But now we are looking forward to 21 September. We might sit down maybe in October and November and review the past six months, but today we are all systems go,” said Mr O’Donovan.

On Tuesday it was widely reported that wet pubs (pubs that don’t serve food) in Ireland would finally be permitted to open their doors.

Draft Government guidelines, drawn up in conjunction with Fáilte Ireland, have already been circulated to publicans and are said to largely reflect those already in place for restaurants and food-serving pubs.

Mr O’Donovan, who runs the Castle Inn on South Main Street, described the reopening as being like “the first day back at school”. “21 September will be 189 days since we closed our doors. There's a bit of trepidation going back,” he said.

“A lot of people will want to see the inside of a normal pub. I anticipate a busy first week and then things will settle down after that and we'll get a clear picture of how things will go. But we have 13 days to prepare. Bring it on.”

On Monday, Mr O’Donovan led one half of a two-pronged demonstration which saw Cork publicans gather outside the offices of Ministers Michael McGrath and Simon Coveney. The groups each handed in letters from the VFI to the ministers demanding the situation be resolved.

“Because of guidelines we could only have 15 people at each, but we could have brought 150 Cork publicans. Both ministers accepted our letters, and to be fair Simon Coveney came out and talked to us for half an hour. I don't think (the re-opening) was solely down to the demonstrations. I think it was a culmination of lots of work that has gone on in the background.”

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