An Irish publican says the hospitality sector has been treated 'despicably' throughout the pandemic.
David Chawke says he'll be delighted to get his bars back open, but he's reluctant to get too excited until customers actually walk in through the doors.
The Government today signed off on plans for the partial reopening of indoor dining for vaccinated people and those who've recovered from COVID-19.
From next Monday, pubs and restaurants will be able to reopen for indoor service for the first time since Christmas.
Mr Chawke - owner of The Bank on College Green in Dublin - told The Hard Shoulder he'll do what he has to do to get open at this stage.
He said: “I would probably stand on one leg or stand on my head and serve drink like that… we’ll do what we have to do.
"It’s exhausting listening to the leaks and communications about what might or might not happen.”
He said some of the measures will be hard to implement, but they just want to get their staff back and doors open again.
While the issue of whether counter service will be allowed is still being finalised, Mr Chawke said a lack of it would be a particular problem for smaller bars and pubs that have less staff.
He noted: “The vaccine passport is going to be hard to implement, but we’re just going to have to do what we have to do to get open.
“I suspect we’ll be checking them for a while. If someone had told me six months ago this was the road we were going to go down… I wouldn’t have believed them."
The publican said he knows how difficult and unprecedented the pandemic has been, but he believes the hospitality sector has had a particularly tough time.
He said: “Everything is so frustrating - it feels like the hospitality has been put in a tumble dryer, taken out, and asked how we feel. I just think our industry hasn’t been treated well, and it’s really hard to watch.
“We can go on about ‘we’re in this together’ - but we’re not.”
'We've lost all our staff'
Gina Murphy, owner of Hugo’s restaurant on Merrion Row, said checking vaccine passes won’t be a big issue for her restaurant as they have a dedicated front desk near the front door.
However, she warned there are still significant problems ahead for the sector.
She said: “I won’t be opening indoors for a week or two yet - I don’t have the staff to cover it. I only have enough staff to cover the terrace at the moment.
“We’ve lost all our staff… and we’ve got into so much debt. It’s not debt we’ve incurred through bad trading.
“If I’d known last March what I’d know now… if I’d just incurred the rent costs for the last 18 months, I’d be two-thirds less in debt than I am now because of the openings and closings. I’d also have had a much better chance to have retained my team.”
She said it is vital Government supports are kept going, as the current situation - including limited seating and social distancing demands - are not sustainable for businesses.
She said: “It’s going to take a long time - September is not the time to take away supports, January isn’t the time.
"It’s got to be next year before we even contemplate going into discussions."