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No live music or standing - pubs table 'radical' changes'

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Donall O’Keeffe. Picture: Caroline Quinn

Donall O’Keeffe. Picture: Caroline Quinn

Donall O’Keeffe. Picture: Caroline Quinn

No live music or DJs, no standing or dancing - this is the proposed future of pubs in a socially distanced world.

The experience will be "dramatically" different, according to a new set of strict social distancing guidelines which may allow pubs to reopen sooner.

Industry representatives will urge Government officials to allow bars to reopen at the same time as restaurants and cafés, with a series of strict social distancing guidelines in place.

According to the Government's roadmap to ease restrictions, pubs are due to reopen in phase five, which would be August 10 at earliest.

However, cafés and restaurants will reopen under phase three, from June 29.

Pub representatives the Licensed Vintners' Association (LVA) and the Vintners' Federation of Ireland (VFI) have now joined forces to urge the Government to push forward pub reopening dates if publicans follow strict measures.

The measures are:

:: No sitting, standing, ordering, paying or drinking at the bar.

:: Customers will be seated at tables at all times, with table service provided.

:: No more than four people per every 10 sq m; a maximum of six people allowed at one table.

:: Hand sanitiser used before entry; staff washing hands every half-hour.

:: Outdoor spaces must "enhance" social distancing.

:: No live music or DJ, and the safe use of toilets, which may include limits on the number of customers using them at one time.

Gardaí or the HSE would have the power to close any business found flouting the public health guidelines.

The LVA and the VFI believe pubs should be allowed to reopen on June 29 instead of August 10 under these strict guidelines.

"We don't believe it is in any way appropriate that the Government should apply one rule for some hospitality businesses and another rule for others," said Donall O'Keeffe, chief executive of the LVA.

He said trading will be "extremely difficult" under these new guidelines and the pub "experience" will drastically change.

"We are making a series of radical proposals to how bars should operate for the reopening scenario. Trading will be extremely difficult under these circumstances," Mr O'Keeffe said. "There is no doubt that the pub experience as we know it will have to change dramatically. However, for those who want to trade, these measures will have the essential impact of protecting the health and well-being of staff and customers alike."

Padraig Cribben, chief executive of the VFI, said the roadmap was not "tenable".

"Pubs across Ireland are up to that challenge and will do what is required for maintaining a safe and healthy place of business," he said.

Meanwhile, construction trade union Unite said companies cannot be left to regulate themselves and called for the provision of PPE for all workers.

Unite regional officer Tom Fitzgerald called for a "number of steps" to be taken to ensure workers are safe on sites.

"These include enforced social distancing, all necessary PPE available on an ongoing basis, and all necessary sanitary facilities provided," he said.

"Workers' temperatures must be monitored on arrival at sites, and provision made for testing of all workers in the construction sector."

Irish Independent