Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that while he does not expect pubs and restaurants to remain closed until a COVID-19 vaccine is developed, they will likely be among the last businesses to reopen when social distancing measures start to wind down.
The Irish Independent quotes Varadkar as saying, "Chances are that as we reopen the economy, as we reopen society, things we're going to reopen last for obvious reasons are going to be mass gatherings and places where people congregate and could pass on infection, and that's a real difficulty for them, and I appreciate that."
Due to the still-developing COVID-19 crisis, the taoiseach said that he cannot say when exactly pubs and restaurants will reopen.
Earlier this week, the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) said that pubs being unable to reopen until a vaccine for COVID-19 is developed would be a nightmare scenario for the pub sector, and that such a scenario would result in many venues going out of business for good.
LVA chairman and owner of Dublin's Swan Bar Ronan Lynch said that he learned about the possibility of pubs remaining closed throughout the summer from newspapers, and expressed displeasure that publicans were not forewarned by the government.
Talking to The Irish Independent, Lynch said, "It would have been nice if [health minister] Simon Harris had run that possibility by us first.
"A bit of consultation would have been nice. After all, we were agreeable to close the pubs when he wanted us to."
Lynch believes that the pub sector will have to evolve and adapt as it goes along. He said, "We will be able to take a lot of learning from what happens in other countries and move it forward.
"I think we'll only be looking at domestic trade for the rest of the year. There won't be tourists. It will be a mountain to climb. The customers will be the ones deciding."
© 2020 Hospitality Ireland – your source for the latest industry news. Article by Dave Simpson. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.