Kerryman

| 10.4°C Dublin

'We had to shut - social distancing was impossible'

Close

Christy Walsh

Christy Walsh

Christy Walsh

Publicans in Kerry knew the writing was on the wall by Saturday as all attempts to impose social distancing failed dismally.

"The pub lockdown is a directive we will have to abide by as we were left in an impossible position trying to keep people to maintain social distancing and keep apart from one another," Chairperson of the Kerry Vintners' Association Christy Walsh toldĀ  People might have started off the night with good intentions, but a couple of drinks in and it all went out the window. "That was the way of it unfortunately.

Bars are all about social interaction, that's why people go - to talk and mingle - and the natural inclination to get closer was impossible to stop. We knew ourselves by Saturday it simply wasn't working, and some pubs in Kerry took it upon themselves to shut ever before the directive was issued by Government and the Association," Mr Walsh added.

He said the indoor gathering limit of 100 was moot in any event: "We would have got away with the 100 limit as plenty of pubs would have far fewer than that most nights of the week." The trade will be fighting for its life as soon as the closure period is lifted. March 29 is the ostensible deadline, but most believe it will run for at least a month.

"It was as the head of the Vintners said announcing the closure, that a lot of pubs closing might never open again. "As chair of the Vintners' in Kerry I feel for everyone of our members and all the staff, they are a number-one priority.

We are searching every avenue at present to try to provide for them and to get them the right information in terms of accessing social welfare entitlements online and the like. That's what every publican in Kerry has been doing today, meeting with staff to get these things sorted."

It's estimated that up to 5,000 work in the bar trade across pubs, restaurants and hotels in the county, with roughly 300 members of the Vintners' Federation of Ireland in Kerry alone.

One of the big questions now is the degree of insurance cover that might be available to the trade in the short-term, if any.

Kerryman