Publicans are urging the Government to clarify its position on pubs that hold restaurant licenses as many prepare to open their doors at the end of June.
Under the roadmap for reopening the economy, restaurants are expected to reopen on June 29th, while pubs will have to wait until August 10th.
More than four-in-ten Dublin pubs hold restaurant licenses and are planning to open in June; however, the Government has yet to decide whether it will allow them to.
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, Donall O’Keeffe, CEO of the Licensed Vintners Association said any pub that has the required license has already been recognized as a restaurant by the courts.
“Under the law they are licensed restaurants,” he said. “They already have kitchens; they already have very substantial food businesses.
“If they have gone to the trouble of getting a restaurant cert, it signifies that food is huge part of their business and they are deeply committed to it.
“So, these pubs are in a position to serve customers food and drink in the same way all restaurants are and we believe they should be opening on June 29th.”
He noted that a phased opening of the sector would be a “safer proposition” than forcing all the country’s pubs to reopen on the same day.
“We do need Government to clarify their understanding of what they are going to do for the legal definition of a restaurant versus a pub,” he said. “But we think these food businesses should be allowed to open on June 29th.”
“We also think that a phased opening of the sector, having food-led pubs opening in June and wet-led bars opening in August, is a safer proposition.”
Mr O’Keeffe confirmed that a “very small number of Dublin pubs” were granted restaurant licenses in the past few weeks.
“I would not expect a big rush for restaurant certificates,” he said. “At the end of the day, this is an opportunity to open six weeks earlier than normal.
“All pubs will be allowed to open on August 10th anyway. These are established food businesses and they are just anxious to get going with that element of their business primarily.”
The LVA has already published guidelines for how pubs can operate until a vaccine or effective treatment for the virus is found, and MR O’Keeffe said pubs are “absolutely going to comply with whatever social distancing requirements are in place.”
“We want to and will provide a safe environment for our staff and our customers,” he said.
“Our core point though is that, if it is safe to have a meal and a drink in a restaurant, then surely it is safe to have a meal and a drink in a pub.”
He said the pub industry demonstrated its “bona fides to the public health restrictions” when it shut down before the national restrictions were announced.