Dublin publicans are urging the Government to 'stick by their decision' and allow pubs in the capital reopen next week, despite the recent surge in new COVID-19 cases.
The Licensed Vintners Association claims the Government should focus on house gatherings, meat factories and direct provision when responding to the increase in cases.
After being closed for over six months, 'wet pubs' have been given the green light to open their doors again from 21st September.
However, the Government has said that will be subject to any local restrictions or lockdowns that might be in place.
Amid the continuing surge in new COVID-19 cases, concerns have been raised that Dublin pubs may be told to remain closed as part of new restrictions expected to be announced for the capital tomorrow.
Case numbers in Dublin have remained high, with 156 of yesterday's 255 new COVID-19 cases recorded in the capital.
Fourth reopening date
Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Licensed Vintners Association chief executive Donall O’Keeffe said they're now calling for the Government to stick by their decision on the reopening date.
He said: "The Cabinet made an announcement last Tuesday that all pubs will reopen on 21st September - that's the fourth reopening date scheduled for wet pubs.
"By that date, they will have been closed 189 days - more than six months.
"These pubs have made no contribution whatsoever to the infection rate in Dublin or Ireland - these pubs have been closed since the 15th March by Government direction. They have not been a factor here."
He noted that the hospitality sector has only been the source of a 'very limited number of outbreaks' since restaurants and hotels were allowed reopen.
Figures released last week showed there have been a total of 10 outbreaks linked to pubs, restaurants or cafés since the pandemic began, compared to over 2,000 in private households.
Mr O'Keeffe observed: "The real issue seem to be regarding house gatherings, meat factories and direct provision - we believe that's where NPHET and the Government should be directing their attention."
He said the reopening guidelines mean the pub experience will be "completely changed" - with businesses operating at 50% capacity, and no customers sitting at the bar.
He said: "The Government talks repeatedly about living with COVID.
"Our members, their families, our suppliers, our staff deserve the opportunity to live with COVID and trade."