The two major Irish vintners associations have criticised the "drip feed release" of guidelines on the reopening of pubs.
The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) and the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) have called for the full and immediate publication of the guidelines for the reopening of pubs, saying the “drip feed” release is "creating more questions than answers".
The representative bodies for pubs throughout the country said that the slow release of the regulations needed for pubs to reopen is adding confusion to the process and questioned why Fáilte Ireland did not release the pub guidelines at the same time as those published for the rest of the hospitality sector.
The LVA and the VFI said that they are unsure about guidelines for pubs who serve food reopening on June 29 and also all other pubs from July 20.
Currently it is believed that a "substantial meal" costing €9 or more must be served for customers to be allowed drink in pubs. The vintners representatives said that they are unclear, however, if this requirement be removed for pubs after July 20.
Contract tracing measures is another area where LVA and VFI say that they are in the dark and unsure what will be required of pubs under these guidelines.
"The drip feed release of these guidelines has been handled in a completely arbitrary manner, which is sowing confusion throughout the industry," said Donall O’Keeffe, Chief Executive of the LVA.
“Pubs who serve food are due to reopen on Monday week, but they still don’t have clarity as to what will be required of them. These businesses need time to get their premises ready, to ensure their pubs are fully compliant while offering a safe and comfortable environment for their customers and staff.
Padraig Cribben, Chief Executive of the VFI added: "There is no reason why the publication of the pub guidelines should have been delayed this long.
“The absence of the detailed guidelines is generating speculation which will hamper the efforts of pubs getting ready to reopen. This has been a very uncertain time for the industry and instead of having a clear understanding of what will be required we’re left with a lot more questions than answers. It’s almost as if the guidelines are a puzzle which publicans have to try to piece together. We are calling on Fáilte Ireland to make the guidelines available so that these 7,000 businesses can make all necessary preparations in time."
Tara Kerry, registrar and accommodation development manager with Fáilte Ireland, said that guidelines will be available to pubs tomorrow.
"We have received guidance from Healthcare Standards Consultative Committee (HCSC) and we are currently going through it at the moment.
"I would hope (to issue the guidance) within the next 24 hours," she said on RTE News at 1, this morning.
A discussion is currently ongoing as to whether the social distancing requirements in reopening pubs could be reduced to one metre.
It is currently understood that this may be the case if customers can limit their stay to less than 90 minutes. Ms Kerry said that it is Fáilte Ireland's wish for this to be extended to two hours.
Answering the questions of the vintners associations, Ms Kerry said that it was the Government's decision not to release the guidelines at the same that as those of the hospitality sector and that the €9 meal requirement will be dropped after July 20.
"We were request by Government not to launch them at the same time because they wanted to look further into the two metres / one metre distance."
"I think the public on the back of where we have been in the last 13 weeks will honour what is in place because they recognise the importance of allowing businesses to reopen and I think that both owners and customers will be compliant.
"Based on the current advice we have yes (all pubs will be able to reopen on July 20) unless something changes on the Government's roadmap to reopening."