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Owners disgusted at not being able to reopen

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Robert Rackard of Rackard’s Bar in Caim

Robert Rackard of Rackard’s Bar in Caim

Robert Rackard of Rackard’s Bar in Caim

Some pub owners across County Wexford are 'disgusted' this week at not being able to reopen their doors to the public.

That was the view of publican, Robert Rackard, when he spoke to this newspaper about the issue.

The owner of Rackard's Pub, in Caim, he said rural pubs in particular are under real threat and that something has to be done at Government level to support what many feel is an industry in crisis.

'I'm disgusted to be honest,' said Mr Rackard.

'We are ready to open and we have everything in place to ensure the safety of customers and staff,' he added.

Mr Rackard said there is also not a level a playing field with regard to who can and cannot open.

'If it was a level playing field across the board I wouldn't mind so much but they are treating pubs that serve food better than others and that's not fair,' he said.

'We were told to be ready for August and that's what we did,' he added.

Mr Rackard outlined some of the measures he put in place to ensure the safety of everyone who entered his premises.

'We put in alcoves and spaced everything out,' he said.

He also pointed out that it was unlikely rural pubs will be overrun with people - especially during the week.

'If I had 10 or 15 people in here on a week night I would be very happy with that,' he said.

'I have had to adapt the counter space to keep people back and I've done that,' he added.

While some pubs are getting around the closure regulations by getting in food from nearby takeaways Mr Rackard said that even if he had a mind to do that it's not an option for him.

'Very few pubs in the country would have an official restaurant licence,' said Mr Rackard.

'Having a pizza oven doesn't give you a restaurant licence,' he added.

'I don't know what's going to happen because it really looks like the country pubs are being forgotten about and these are livelihoods we're talking about.'

'Something will have to be done to support country pubs,' he said.

'We have health inspectors coming in but then if you serve food you are high risk,' he said.

'If everyone was treated the same as each other then it wouldn't be so bad,' he added.

Mr Rackard also said the gardai are in a difficult position too.

'The legislation was brought in to suit Dublin pubs where 90 per cent of them serve food,' he said.

'That's not the case in rural Ireland where a lot of pubs wouldn't serve food,' he added.

Mr Rackard said the future of the industry in rural Ireland, including County Wexford, does not look good unless something is done to support the sector.

'It's likely that lot of pubs will never open up again,' he said.

'Something has to be done to support rural pubs but if it's not done soon it will be too late for many of them,' he added.

Enniscorthy Guardian