Hospitality sector must be given opportunity to open together, says VFI

Pubs, restaurants and cafes must be allowed the opportunity to open together when lockdown restrictions are lifted, as the Government’s own data proves private dwellings, not hospitality outlets, are the primary source of Covid outbreaks.  The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) says all pubs should be given the same opportunity as other businesses to allow their staff return to work in December.

The VFI is also reminding Government that back in September the Acting Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Ronan Glynn said all pubs would be given the option to reopen at the same time once lockdown ended.

The vintners’ call for equality comes as data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) reveals pubs are one of the lowest risk sectors, below even restaurants, accounting for just 0.28% of outbreaks and clusters recorded since the pandemic began. In contrast, gatherings in houses are responsible for almost 75% of cases.

Padraig Cribben, Chief Executive, VFI, states: “The evidence is clear that all hospitality outlets should be given the choice to open. The idea that non-food pubs should be forced to remain shut is a non-starter especially when you consider the Government’s own data that pubs are responsible for such a small number of outbreaks. As a sector, all we want is the opportunity to open and trade. It would be crazy to divide us again and it makes no sense given all we have learned about how to manage social distancing in pubs.

“While there is plenty of comment that restaurants will be permitted to open next week, we would remind Government that according to their own figures pubs are safer than restaurants.  All we are saying is give pubs the opportunity to trade in a safe and secure manner.

“We know that socialising is going to take place. The key question for government is – will it be safer in a controlled environment, with social distancing, mask wearing and proper hand sanitisation, like the pub, or in a private gathering where little of these precautions will be in place and where we know almost three quarters of all clusters emanate from?

“We also know there is pent-up demand after a very difficult year. Permitting all pubs to open will distribute demand across as many safe and controlled venues as possible.

“We have 50,000 staff waiting this week to find out if they can go back to work. They need to be working in December to provide a reasonable Christmas for their families and are surely entitled to that as a minimum after the best part of nine months on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment,” concludes Mr Cribben.

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