Independent TD Mattie McGrath has claimed that the Fáilte Ireland guidelines for reopening pubs are un-realistic, un-enforceable and un-workable and show little understanding of the realities of pubs in rural Ireland.
In a 22 page document, the guidelines outline that in order for pubs to reduce their social distancing from 2metres to 1 metre to allow for increased capacity, they should be required to serve a substantial meal “of a kind for which it would be reasonable to charge not less than €9”. The guidelines also state that pre-booked time slots should be in place for customers which are a maximum of 105 minutes with an extra 15 minutes to be allocated for cleaning between bookings and to allow customers leave and enter without mixing and take the name and contact details of their customers.
Deputy McGrath expressed his surprise at the fact that these guidelines were heralded as a great saviour to the industry while the small rural pub was given no mention and seems to be utterly forgotten about.
“These guidelines might well be very helpful for busy city centre businesses who have a huge customer turnover and for whom charging a €9meal would be no problem but what will work for the big city pub will effectively shut down our pubs in rural Ireland. Where is the clarity for the small rural pub and what are they to do?” asked Deputy McGrath
“Many rural pubs serve a very important social outlet which has obviously been closed for months now and with no other social, community or sporting activities, loneliness and isolation have become a huge side effect of covid 19. These pubs generally have limited numbers of customers and were barely making a profit before the coronavirus hit but were serving an important social role and they need clarity and support.
They don't have the ability to provide €9 meals and give appointed time slots. Many would be lucky if they had 20 customers in an evening and now we are telling them they can only serve these customers for less than 2 hours while also having to put huge investment into Perspex screens, ppe equipment and extra staff. It simply will not pay many rural pubs to be re-open.
They need real supports and clarity and not a 22 page document which will bring more despair to an industry already struggling industry. These guidelines are unworkable and will bring an end to many pubs across rural Ireland bringing with it the last social outlet in many communities. This can't be allowed to happen; we have to find better ways to learn to live with this virus while also maintaining the fabric of rural Ireland and we need to remember than one size does not fit all.” Concluded McGrath