Plans to keep wet pubs closed for the rest of the year are based on politics, not public health, according to publicans in Dublin.
Cabinet is today expected to sign off on plans to exit Level Five restrictions, with shops, hairdressers and gyms to get the green light to reopen from next week.
Restaurants and gastropubs are set to follow later in the month, despite NPHET advice to keep the hospitality industry locked down.
However, pubs that don’t serve food are likely to be ordered to stay closed.
This morning, the Licenced Vintners' Association (LVA) Chief Executive Donall O'Keeffe told Newstalk that Government now needs to explain why it is treating pubs differently based on their menus.
“It is clear to us Government can no longer hide behind NPHET now,” he said.
“Any decision to separate out wet pubs from the rest of hospitality will be a purely political decision taken by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens.
“There has been no evidence advanced that wet pubs are a higher risk and it remains our position that all hospitality should open together next week.”
He said reopening all the country’s pubs at once would spread customers out across more establishments – reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
“There is huge pent-up demand,” he said.
“We believe that all pubs – food and wet pubs – will provide a safe, controlled environment. Indoor service in managed settings is the way to go.
“Subject to Garda inspection and Garda enforcement and we are calling on the Government to open all pubs next week to meet that demand safely and securely.”
The planned reopening comes in spite of NPHET concern about the prospect of any hospitality reopening over Christmas.
The trade-off for the partial reopening of hospitality will tighter restrictions than expected on household visits over Christmas week – with fewer people permitted to attend family gatherings.
The instruction to stay within your county is also going to stay in place until December 18th at the earliest, when cross-country travel will resume.
Cabinet will meet on Friday to sign off on the measures.