Pubs across the country will welcome customers indoors today, many for the first time since March 2020. While reopening for indoor trading is hugely significant for the trade, the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) says its vital customers cooperate with publicans and their staff who will be working under challenging conditions. The VFI says the new guidelines are onerous and impractical to operate.
Over 3,000 pubs will reopen today with 25,000 staff signing off the PUP and heading back to work.
The new guidelines to permit indoor drinking and dining state customers must be fully vaccinated or recently recovered from Covid to gain entry to a venue. The documentation confirming a customer’s status will be checked by pub staff at the front door.
Padraig Cribben, VFI Chief Executive, says: “It’s a big day for the trade especially when you consider some of our members were closed for over 16 months. Unfortunately, the new guidelines government handed down to us will make it very difficult for publicans and staff to manage their indoor businesses. Our message to customers is simple: ‘please work with us as we get used to these new guidelines’.
“The guidelines are onerous and cumbersome for staff to implement. Pubs will have to record the personal details of every person entering the venue while keeping a separate, anonymous, record that confirms vaccine passes have been checked. It’s not a practical system for business owners to operate so we’re asking people to be patient, cooperate and please remember that publicans and their staff are only doing their job.
“The Government made it clear this was the only solution to get pubs open so it’s this or remain closed until October at the earliest. While we’re far from happy about how our members are reopening it’s important to remember this is only a temporary measure and our expectation is that the requirement to check vaccine certs will be removed as soon as possible.”
VFI President Paul Moynihan, who runs his family pub in Donard, Co Wicklow, says: “The reopening of indoor hospitality marks the end of an extremely challenging 16-month period that began on 15th March 2020 when all pubs were instructed to close in the face of the advancing pandemic.
“It’s only fair that pubs with no outdoor space are allowed reopen. While outdoor trading has been a success for some publicans, reopening indoors gives businesses a chance to make ends meet.
“Safety and responsibility will be the watchwords in the weeks ahead as publicans and customers get to grips with the new reality. Publicans having to request vaccine certs from people they’ve known for years is not where any of us expected to be but we need to get open.
“The key message I’ve received from publicans is that once we’re open we stay open. There can be no return to more lockdowns, as the consequences of such a move for the trade don’t bear thinking about,” concludes the VFI President.