The Government has been accused of being "paralysed by fear" when it comes to making a decision about the reopening of pubs.
Cabinet last night agreed to pause phase four of the country's reopening for the second time, meaning pubs which do not serve food now won't be allowed reopen on August 10th.
The Government pointed to the recent increase in coronavirus numbers, with the Taoiseach noting he has "enormous sympathy" for the plight of pub owners.
Padraig Cribben, CEO of the Vintners' Federation (VFI), has claimed there's no strategy in place to address the issues that have caused the recent spike in coronavirus cases.
Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, he said: "We now have a Government that is paralysed by fear of making any decisions.
"They have abandoned about 3,500-4,000 publicans - mainly rural pubs, small pubs, family-owned, family-run.
"Sympathy doesn't pay the bills, and we now have a scenario where businesses are going to be closed by a minimum of six months."
He suggested "we will sit here in three weeks times with the exact same problems" - pointing to recent clusters that have emerged in a number of food processing facilities.
George Savage - publican and nightclub owner of 'The Blasket' in Tralee - suggested it is 'scary' that the Government is only now looking at a support package for the sector.
Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Mr Savage said the "overriding reaction from most publicans is despair at this stage".
He said: "At the end of the day, we're pub owners but we're just small businesses - if any small business is shut down for five months, you're staring down the barrel.
"You're also being told it's not your fault, you've done nothing wrong - but you are to stay closed.
"While there are other areas in the country that are driving the rise in figures, we seem to be slightly the scapegoat... there doesn't seem to be a plan going forward."
Mr Savage said a lot of businesses spent money on the basis of reopening this month, while the prospect of a support package for the sector "might be too little, too late".
He said: "Irish pubs are the main attraction for people coming into the country as tourists.
"When the economy wakes up next year, an awful lot of them mightn't be around to greet the tourists."
Main image: File photo. Picture by Jaap Arriens/Xinhua