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Smith has say on re-opening of pubs

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Duncan Smith TD

Duncan Smith TD

Duncan Smith TD

A local Labour TD has called for an alignment between the reopening of pubs, cafés and restaurants, and has asked for a 'clear communication strategy' from Government on the issue.

Due to current restrictions surrounding COVID-19, pubs across the country have remained closed since March 15, with many in the industry calling for an earlier reopening of business.

Under the Government's 'Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business', public houses are not due to reopen until the final phase of lifting COVID-19 restrictions on August 10, with cafés and restaurants set to resume trading on June 29.

Speaking in the Dáil last week, Fingal Labour Deputy Duncan Smith made reference to what he said was the 'inherent contradiction' between the reopening of both hospitality sectors during the COVID-19 crisis.

He said: '...I know there has been a lot of discussion on when pubs will be reopened. Rightly or wrongly, and probably wrongly, the opening of pubs is seen as some sort of finishing line for the COVID-19 crisis.

'We know this is not accurate, but it demands a clear communication strategy from the Government. For example, there is an inherent contradiction in allowing restaurants with bars to reopen on June 29, but not allowing bars without restaurants to open until August 10.'

He added: 'Like many, I look forward to the day when I can meet my friends in my local pub for a pint, but I am in no rush to get there if it compromises public safety.'

Deputy Smith said that, with the 'anomaly' he had made reference to, 'we ask that both pubs and restaurants be open on the same day, as long as the establishment in question meet public health requirements.'

The Labour Deputy said he was 'agnostic' on when this may take place, but a 'clear and coherent policy' from Government was needed.

Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport, Deputy Brendan Griffin, responding to Deputy Smith, said the government was 'open to suggestions from the industry players' regarding how pubs could operate safely, and that it was engaging with people in the industry to see if this could be done.

He said: 'Speaking as somebody who ran a pub for three years in the past, it is a very difficult environment in which to put in place the social distancing that would be required, but that is not to say we are not open to suggestions and ideas on how it could be possible.

'We want to try to be fair to everybody. These are matters we are working on.'

The Licensed Vintners Association and the Vintners' Federation of Ireland, representing most of Ireland's estimated 7,000 pubs, are now calling for the reopening of pubs at the end of June, in line with cafés and restaurants.

Fingal Independent