Vintners’ Chair: Indoor reopening plans are ‘unworkable’

Chairperson of the Roscommon and District Vintners’ Federation of Ireland, Larry Brennan has described the plans to reopen indoor hospitality as “unworkable” and said the burden to police new restrictions will fall on publicans.

The local VFI chair was commenting following yesterday’s Cabinet approval to allow those who are vaccinated or who have immunity from Covid-19 to avail of indoor hospitality. The new legislation is expected to come into effect no later than July 26th.

Mr. Brennan, who runs ‘Down the Hatch’ in Roscommon town, said he believed it would be safer to delay the reopening.

“The current plans are unworkable. I can understand the clamour for indoor trading to resume, particularly for larger, more food-based outlets in tourist areas but it’s better if we open in a manner that’s safe,” he said.

Mr. Brennan said that small rural pubs would be under severe pressure when it came to the implementation of guidelines pertaining to Covid-19 vaccination certifications or immunity.

He said: “In small rural pubs it is going to be very difficult to police guidelines around vaccine certification. For example, if a local GAA, soccer or rugby team decided to come in after a match, would older people be allowed inside while younger, unvaccinated people are turned away?”

The Roscommon town publican said that while many businesses had been closed since the pandemic began, the recent rise in case numbers led him to question the Government’s decision to reopen the sector as early as next week.

“My view is that it is better to leave things as they are for another few weeks when we have more people fully vaccinated and a clearer, more workable plan,” he said.

“As of now, we don’t even know what the guidelines will be but if there is two-metre social distancing and no counter service this would mean many rural pubs would only be able to cater for 15 or 20 people. At the moment, outdoor service is working fine and we have been told that it’s safer outside.

“This reopening is also coming against a backdrop of a huge surge in daily figures due to the Delta variant. We don’t know what those figures will be like in the coming weeks” he concluded.