Publicans have proposed a plan to convince public health officials to allow bars to reopen six weeks earlier than planned.

Under the Government's road map pubs are not scheduled to reopen until August, but two representative groups are hoping new arrangements could see pubs opening from the end of June, along with cafes and restaurants.

The Licensed Vintners' Association (LVA) and the Vintners' Federation of Ireland (VFI) have written to the Government accepting an invitation to discuss the road map and its implications for pubs as a matter of urgency. 

The two organisations are proposing strict protocols for staff and customers to allow pubs to reopen while continuing to protect public health.

The measures include confining the number of people sitting at a table to six, no more than four people per every 10sq.m and table service will be a requirement. 

Bars will become dispense bars only with no sitting, standing, ordering, payment or drinking at the counter allowed.

All customers must remain seated and staff will be fully trained in the new procedures, including hand washing every 30 minutes.

The measures include utilisation of outdoor spaces to enhance social distancing and there will be no live music or DJs allowed.

LVA chief executive Donal O'Keeffe said pub owners want to be treated the same as cafés and restaurants.

"We fully respect the need to continue to protect the public health," he said.

"We have repeatedly proven this commitment, not least in the fact that our sector was the first to close across the country.

"We also believe that if other venues who serve food and alcohol are allowed to reopen in Phase 3, then pubs should be granted the same opportunity to trade."

He said many pubs may choose not to reopen as it simply will not be financially viable under these conditions.

"However, for those who want to trade, these measures will have the essential impact of protecting the health and wellbeing of staff and customers alike," Mr O'Keeffe said.

Padraig Cribben, Chief Executive of the VFI said: "We were pleased to see Minister Humphreys and Minister Harris commit to organising a meeting this week to discuss the reopening of pubs in line with restaurants and cafés.

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"We have now written to the Government to ensure this meeting happens at the earliest possible opportunity. What is clear is that the current roadmap plan isn't tenable and will lead to confusion in the hospitality sector if it is not addressed."

Proposed measures:

  • Bars will become dispense bars only with no sitting, standing, ordering, payment or drinking at the bar allowed.
  • Table service will be a requirement with pubs only serving customers seated at tables.
  • The numbers on the premises would be confined to no more than four per every 10 square metres.
  • A maximum of 6 people would be permitted at any one table.
  • Customers will be required to use hand sanitiser upon entry.
  • All customers must remain seated.
  • Staff will be fully trained in the new procedures.
  • They will also be asked to maintain a safe distance from customers when taking orders and to wash their hands thoroughly every 30 minutes.
  • The utilisation of outdoor spaces to enhance social distancing.
  • Procedures implemented to ensure safe use of toilet facilities, which may include limits on the numbers using toilets at any one time. No live music or DJs.
  • Gardaí / HSE will have the power to close any business who is flouting the public health guidelines.