Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

14.22 20 Apr 2021


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Publicans are calling for beer gardens to reopen on May 24th, the same day indoor hospitality resumes in Northern Ireland.

It comes as a quarter of traditional Dublin pubs mark 400 days since they were asked to shut their doors.

While gastropubs have had small windows of reopening, so-called 'wet pubs' in the capital have been unable to open since last March.

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Donal O’Keefe from the Licensed Vintners Association told Breakfast Briefing it has been a nightmare for publicans.

He said: "It's an absolutely appalling milestone in many ways - when pubs closed on March 15th last year, no-one could have envisaged what lay ahead of us.

"In our worst nightmares, we thought we were going to be closed until the middle of summer 2020 - and here we are 400 days later, not having traded for a single day."

Mr O'Keefe said all outdoor hospitality - including pubs, hotels and restaurants - should be allowed on May 24th, followed by the 'entire hospitality sector' the following month.

He suggested May 24th still allows for over a month of limited social interactions.

However, he said there's already 'overwhelming demand' for takeaway pints due to gatherings in the likes of parks, beaches and by the canal.

The Government is due to announce their new roadmap for reopening next week - including plans for June and July.

Ministers have said their focus will be on reopening the likes of retail and personal services such as hairdressers in May.

Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath says the current frustration of publicans is 'understandable'.

However, he said progress is being made - and a return to normal society over the coming months is now 'within reach'.

In the meantime, the LVA is calling on Dublin’s gastro and traditional pubs to contact their local politician today to call for beer gardens to reopen next month.

Main image: A man sits outside an empty pub in Dublin's city centre. Picture by: Brian Lawless/PA Archive/PA Images

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