Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

14.59 10 Dec 2020


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The owner of a bar in the west of Ireland insists he will open without serving food because all his customers will have rapid COVID-19 tests.

Pubs that do not serve food can only offer a delivery or takeaway services under current restrictions.

Restaurants and gastropubs reopened for indoor dining last Friday, with pubs serving food required to have an on-site kitchen.

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Donal Byrne, who owns Eileen's Bar in Aghamore in Co Mayo, has decided to introduce mandatory antigen testing before someone can enter the bar.

The pub is being promoted on social media as Ireland's "first COVID-free bar".

Mr Byrne told Lunchtime Live that the testing measure is in place to try and guarantee a safe environment on his premises.

He said: "The only way, we feel, out of this as publicans is testing.

"Food does not stop COVID, food does not protect from COVID, but testing does.

Mr Byrne says he has been purchasing the tests made in Germany from a company in Co Mayo and says they are 99.9% effective.

He explained that the tests are only available to locals and regular visitors to the pub who are given an allocated time to show up for their test.

Testing is only carried out between 5pm and 7pm, and after that "the doors are closed".

The test is then given by a medical practitioner, followed by a 15-minute wait for a result, and if it is negative, people will be permitted to enter the bar where they must abide by social distancing and public health guidelines.

If the result is positive, a GP will be informed and regular procedures for confirmed COVID-19 cases will be followed.

Pub opening without serving food offers rapid COVID-19 tests to customers

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'Burgers aren't safe, testing is'

Mr Byrne feels this practice is better than the takeaway service or outdoor dining option which the pub had offered previously.

He said: "This is going to go on for a considerable amount of time, we felt that the legislation was written in a time of crisis, it wasn't perfect, it had the word food and as we know, food has nothing to do with COVID and that's why we feel this is the more common-sense approach.

"It means my customers are safer, my staff are safer, and we can try and get back to a way of normality within the west of Ireland.

He added that they have looked into the legalities of opening while not serving food and said he believes they are within their rights.

Mr Byrne said: "We feel that this is safer, putting a burger down in front of somebody doesn't make it safe but testing them does.

"I understand this is going to hit a nerve with some people, my eyes are opened, I'm prepared to ask the questions and I'm prepared to represent myself."

He said he has informed the Vitner's Association of his actions and they said "they don't want anything to do with it".

He added that he has received an "excellent response" from people since publicising his plans, and that 95% of the feedback "has been brilliant."

Main image: Eileen's Bar in Co Mayo. Photo: Eileen's Bar via Facebook

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COVID-19 Restrictions COVID-19 Testing Coronavirus Covid-19 Eileen's Bar Mayo Pubs

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