The announcement that all hospitality restrictions will be removed from tomorrow (Saturday) has been greeted with a huge amount of relief and expectation by publicans and their staff across the country, says the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI).
After a nightmare 22 months of lockdowns, closures, partial shutdowns and restricted trading, pubs can from tomorrow get back to the business of what they do best – serving the public in a warm, safe and friendly environment.
While the removal of all restrictions is a massive step forward for the trade, there will be also a sense of trepidation as publicans attempt to rebuild their businesses after enduring some of the tightest restrictions in the world.
Padraig Cribben, VFI Chief Executive, says: “After a nightmare 22 months this is the news our members have been waiting for. The removal of all restrictions this weekend is the green light for pubs to get back to doing what they do best and I know for a fact they can’t wait.
“Across Ireland there are 7,000 pubs employing 50,000 staff so the benefits of reopening will be felt everywhere. Overnight, we are saying goodbye to vaccine passes, mandatory table service, contact details, six per table, sitting at all times, 1-metre social distancing, no pool or darts and the ban on using bar counters. It really is remarkable to see it all coming to an end.
“Over the course of the past two years there have been numerous false starts and deep disappointment as we returned to various lockdowns, but there is a strong belief this time is different. We must learn to live with Covid, which means solutions must be put in place for any future waves. The hospitality trade can’t return to rolling lockdowns so Government must engage with the sector about meaningful solutions to keep us open.
“The trade must also be given time to get back on its feet so maintaining the EWSS at the current rate for another couple of months is vital. Our members have taken a hammering over the past two years so it is reasonable to maintain supports during the initial reopening phase.”
Paul Moynihan, VFI President, says: “When we stood with the then Minister for Health, Simon Harris, as he announced the closure of all pubs on 15th March 2020 none of us could have foreseen the crisis that lay ahead. Almost two years later, as restrictions end this weekend, we can finally start looking to the future.
“We closed our pubs due to public health advice and all through the crisis we said public health is the number one priority. The vaccine rollout was the game-changer for the country so I want to thank everyone in the health sector for getting us to the point where the country can open up again,” concludes the VFI President.