The British discount pub chain JD Wetherspoon says it won’t push to reopen in Ireland before August 10, putting it at odds with the two main publican groups here.
Wetherspoons - which has often drawn the ire of domestic pubs with its cut-price and high-volume business model - says it won’t attempt to reopen on June 29. That is the date set by Government for restaurants to reopen, while pubs are supposed to wait until August 10.
Both publican groups here - the Vintners Federation of Ireland’s 4,000 pubs nationwide and the Licensed Vintners Association’s 750 pubs concentrated in Dublin – say most of their members have restaurant licenses and should be free to resume table-only service on June 29.
But Wetherspoon’s told Independent.ie that its seven pubs here will reopen “only when the Irish Government says they can”.
When asked if Wetherspoon outlets here were taking active steps now to reopen on June 29, a spokesman said its seven Irish pubs will open on August 10th, not before that date.
The UK chain made the disclosure as it published its group-wide tactics for reopening safely. Its plan involves £11m (€12m) investment across its 875 outlets in Britain and Ireland - but makes no mention of adhering to a minimum two-metre distance between patrons.
Unlike in Ireland, the British government has not specified a date when pubs can reopen, though sometime in July is considered likely.
The Wetherspoon plan says each pub will hire at least two extra staff to roam the premises disinfecting tables, door handles and other points of customer contact
Bottles of ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard and vinegar will be banned from tables, replaced by throwaway sachets. Drinks will be served on trays.
Tables that cannot be spaced apart will be separated using polycarbonate shields, as will the tills.
And Wetherspoon – which unlike most pubs already has numbered tables for service and an app for viewing menus and placing orders electronically – will encourage all customers to order using this method. The menu will be pared down to facilitate in-app orders, it says.
Staff will be supplied gloves, masks and protective eyewear, but “employees can elect whether to wear them or not, subject to government guidelines”, the company said.
Floors will be marked to direct one-way footfall, with separate doors to enter and exit the premises
When staff report for duty, Wetherspoon says they “will need to complete and sign a daily health assessment questionnaire to confirm that they are fit to work. This will include having their temperature taken using a digital thermometer.
The plan says: “Dedicated staff will monitor the pub at all times in order to maintain social distancing standards."
But it offers no detail on how this will be enforced and makes no explicit mention of maintaining at least two metres’ distance between customers.