Publicans have no interest in opening "just for two weeks over Christmas" before having to close again, the Vintners' Federation of Ireland has warned.

Padraig Cribben, chief executive of the group, said Government plans to reopen parts of society should not just be focused on the festive period. 

Speaking on RTÉ's Saturday with Katie Hannon, he said there has to be a plan into January and February as "just two weeks over Christmas" is of no interest.

"I don't think any publican is interested in opening for Christmas and closing down again. There are costs in starting up and closing down."

Mr Cribben also said returning to Level 3 Covid-19 restrictions is not viable and not practical if that is the Government's plan come December. 

Under Level 3, bars and pubs serving food can open for take-away and delivery as well as serve a maximum of 15 customers outdoors.

"If you look at a rainy day like today, it's just not on," said the VFI chief.

He said people are going to socialise over Christmas and questioned whether it will be "in the home with no masks and no social distancing or in the controlled environment of a pub".

Mr Cribben said there will be a demand for pubs and the broader it is spread out, the better.

"For those pubs who want to open, they should be given the opportunity to do it."

He also outlined what he thinks will happen if pubs in the north are open and pubs in the south are not. 

"What we have in border counties is levels of infection four times higher in the north than the south and it is going to end up with people in the south going to hotels and pubs in the north and they will bring the virus back down south again."

Minister for Housing Darragh O'Brien rejected that would happen. While no decision had been made yet about the reopening of pubs, he said "of course there is hope".

He said the Government will be engaging with those in the hospitality sector and then come to a "responsible" decision.


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Minister O'Brien also said a Covid-19 vaccine will be a "gamechanger" and its rollout has to be a priority for Government for 2021. 

Independent TD Denis Naughten said lockdowns are a "blunt instrument" and while they stop the rate of infection, "we don't know which aspects work or not". 

"What we really need to do is abandon the Level 5 strategy and bring in a new model that will open up as much of society as possible and ensure the next wave does not bring a lockdown."

He said managing the virus in France and Germany is very different to parts of Ireland.

"What we need to do is look at data here in terms of laboratories, contact tracing and hospitalisations and analyse that and see what reduces the spread of infection."