8pm closing no compromise for decimated pub trade

The Government decision to introduce a restricted closing time of 8pm for the hospitality sector until the end of January is the final gut punch for a sector that has faced an unprecedented pummelling since the pandemic started 20 months ago. According to the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) the 8pm closing time makes little sense and will lead to pubs closing their doors for the duration of restrictions.

The VFI also says that unless Government reintroduces the CRSS for its members, who now face severe restrictions in what should have been the busiest weeks of the year, many businesses will go to the wall.

Padraig Cribben, VFI Chief Executive, says: “I guess the government thinks we should feel grateful for the 8pm closing given NPHET’s demand for a 5pm curfew. The reality is this decision will decimate the trade that was already on its knees. Christmas was the one chance we had to recoup some of the losses amassed earlier in the year but we’re now in a situation where staff will lose their jobs and pubs will shut one week before Christmas as they see little point in opening under these conditions.

“While Government may see 8pm as a compromise the reality is that many pubs don’t open until 5pm so three hours trading is unworkable for them. Even for pubs that open earlier the majority of their trade takes place at night time.

“Given the relentless public health message over the past number of weeks to avoid socialising the public had already cancelled bookings in record numbers. There was no need to further restrict trading hours as our customers are safer in regulated pubs that adhere to guidelines instead of house parties and shebeens.

“Our members are left wondering what the plan is for hospitality. These restrictions are meant to be lifted at the end of January but there is literally no guarantee this will happen. Publicans and their staff are trapped by the Government’s inability to plan a pathway out of the crisis that doesn’t involve lockdowns.

“Government now has to announce a return of the CRSS for our members who have been pummelled by this news. It’s difficult to overstate the feeling in the trade, publicans and their staff are at the absolute limits of their endurance.

“We need to see comprehensive supports this weekend, it’s the least the trade expects,” concludes Mr Cribben.