It would be safer to allow all the country’s pubs to open for the Christmas season that to limit reopening to those that serve food, according to the Vintners Federation of Ireland.
The Government will this week announce its plan for lifting Level Five restrictions over the Christmas period – with shops, gyms and hairdressers expected to return next week.
Restaurants and pubs that serve food are likely to follow, along with hotels; however, non-food pubs are expected to be ordered to remain closed for the rest of the year.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Padraig Cribben, the CEO of the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) said Government policy is driven by opinion, rather than science.
“We believe it would be safer from a public health point of view to actually open all of the pubs,” he said. “We believe all the pubs should be given the opportunity to trade.
“I say that because there are a couple of things we do know. We know there is a pent-up demand there and that people will socialise at Christmas and we believe the broader that is spread the safer it will be.”
Today we’re proud to join forces with @guinnessireland Raising the Bar to launch #KEEPTHELIGHTSON - which will see pubs across Ireland coming together to simultaneously switch on their Christmas lights this Friday November 20th at 5pm, highlighting readiness for a safe reopening pic.twitter.com/IqQmw3c6TT
— VFI (@VFIpubs) November 19, 2020
He noted that data form the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) shows that pubs account for just 0,28% of COVID-19 outbreaks – while almost 75% have been traced to household settings.
He warned that, even if it is possible that a proportion of the clusters traced to the household were originally seeded in pubs or restaurants, the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has not produced any data to prove it.
“If we don’t have it, then NPHET don’t have it, so what NPHET is doing is guessing,” he said.
“What we were told from the very beginning was, this would be based on science, not on opinion and if we don’t have the data, they don’t have it so my opinion is equally as valid as theirs.
Ahead of Thursday's announcement, @VFIpubs calls for all pubs to be given the option to open #OpeningTime #AllIWant4Christmas https://t.co/CPQkIH5Jk0
— VFI (@VFIpubs) November 23, 2020
He said the Government has defined pubs as controlled settings, the same it has defined restaurants – but it is still treating them differently.
“What Government are actually saying is, we trust the people who run restaurants, we trust the people who run hotels, we trust the people who do food in pubs, we trust the people who go in there,” he said.
“But we don’t trust the people who go into non-food pubs, we don’t trust the staff in there and we don’t trust those people – and that is not acceptable.”
We all have a part to play in preparing for a safe & enjoyable Christmas - let’s make it happen! Our collective effect is key for reopening safely @MichealMartinTD @LeoVaradkar @EamonRyan @cathmartingreen @Paschald @mmcgrathtd @ElainaFitzKane @DonnellyStephen #SaveChristmas pic.twitter.com/H5XyGPXKG9
— The IHF (@IHFcomms) November 25, 2020
Meanwhile, Tim Fenn, CEO of the Irish Hoteliers Federation (IHF), said hotels want to be able to accept booking from people form other countries and to welcome locals into their restuarants.
He said members are already receiving calls from families who would prefer to gather in hotels at Christmas, “without having to arrive en-masse to the home setting.”
“Right from the start we set about implementing safety measures,” he said. “We helped develop the Government-approved guidelines for hotels, which have served our industry very well.
“So, when we talk about issues around physical distancing, hotels have safety structures and procedures, hotels have space for physical distancing. Hotels are safe controlled environments and they are proven to be safe.
“What we want Government to do is recognise the reduced risk in safe and structured, controlled environments, such as hotels and we want to be part of the solution for a safe Christmas.”
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