The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) has warned many pubs will be out of business for good, if the sector waits until a coronavirus vaccine is found before re-opening.
The representative body for publicans in Dublin has described this as a "nightmare scenario".
It follows comments made by Health Minister Simon Harris who told the Sunday Independent: "So I can’t see how people can be in packed pubs again as long as this virus is still with us and we don’t have a vaccine or an effective treatment."
In the same piece, he suggested a vaccine or treatment might not be in place until 2021.
LVA chief executive Donall O’Keeffe said: "That is the absolute nightmare scenario for the entire pub sector. If that happens then most pub businesses in this country will be out of business for good.
"The LVA and its members will absolutely support whatever measures are deemed necessary in the interests of public health, as we have done from the beginning of this crisis, but if closing pubs until 2021 is going to be necessary then it is essential that a pub specific support scheme is introduced.
"Otherwise there won’t be a pub industry in this country by the time a vaccine is found."
He added: "The LVA welcomed the strong Government support for the 50,000 staff laid off as a result of the crisis.
"This will have to be extended for the duration of the pub closure period. However unless it is supplemented with a specific support scheme to keep the pubs themselves afloat, the staff will have no jobs to return to."
He told Newstalk Breakfast: "We were all of a hope certainly, in our world, that pubs would be open late this summer.
"We do understand pubs would be one of the last sectors to open up and obviously we will remain fully committed to implementing whatever guidelines the department and the National Public Health Emergency Team recommend.
"But we certainly had been working under the assumption or the hope that our businesses would be open in the middle or the second half of this summer.
"I suppose the minister's comments really crystallized our worst fear here, that pubs wouldn't open at all in 2020".