Pubs may not open until 2021 fears Laois publican due to Covid-19 pandemic

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

Pubs may not open until 2021 predicts Laois publican

Pubs may not open until January 2021 says Laois publican

A high profile Laois publican fears that pubs could be closed until as long as next January 2021 and some may not reopen at all after the catastrophic economic impact of Covid-19.

PJ and Niamh Kavanagh own Kavanagh’s Bar, a Portlaoise pub and live venue with a national award winning reputation as a venue for top music and comedy.

“We have to be directed by Government on how long we will have to stay closed. I hope it won’t be as long as some predict. To survive until January would be very difficult,” PJ told the Leinster Express.

He made his comment after Minister for Health Simon Harris said that "I can't see people in packed pubs again as long as this virus is with us".

PJ Kavanagh said social distancing would be "very difficult" to carry out and would limit income to the point of not being viable.

“There are older pubs that are thinking will they reopen or not. The pub scene has changed in the last few decades. It’s nearly a hobby now for some, so whether there is still a business after Covid-19 is a big question. It’s stepping into the unknown," PJ Kavanagh said.

He is the PRO for the Irish Vintners Association, who have stated that speculation that pubs could be last to open is a “kick in the teeth”.

The VFI has this week called for equality for its members after media reports  on Wednesday April 29 that restaurants could open before pubs when the planned easing of lockdown restrictions is introduced.

They say that such a scenario would create a two-tier hospitality sector and would place pubs at a huge disadvantage as they attempt to rebuild their businesses.

"If reports are true it would mean a pub serving food would remain shut while a restaurant across the street could open, an outcome with huge implications for the capacity of the pub sector to trade its way out of this crisis. Government proposals outline a tiered reopening of business and social life with restaurants opening in phase two and pubs in a “later” phase, which could mean many more months of forced closure for VFI members," the VFI said in a statement on Wednesday.

VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribben said the sector is already on its knees.

“Publicans are facing a stark future. As a sector we’re already on our knees and this speculation  is an absolute kick in the teeth. We are very clear that pubs should open simultaneously with all other hospitality outlets. All sectors will be following the same social distancing guidelines so one outlet should not have a competitive advantage over the other.

“The government need to come out immediately with a clear, concise and fair plan that allows our members to start planning for the future. Publicans need clarity on what social distancing will mean for their businesses,” said Mr Cribben.