The Vintners' Federation of Ireland has called on the Government to provide a comprehensive new package of supports if the pub industry is to survive until the new Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.

The group made its plea after the Government decided to close pubs serving food along with restaurants on Christmas Eve.

It said the decision bring closer the probability that pubs will remain shut past March 15, 2021, the one year anniversary of when the trade first closed.

The VFI said the Government's original plan to lockdown the country for six weeks until early December so the country could have a "meaningful" Christmas now lies in tatters. 

The hospitality sector was prevented from even making it to St Stephen's Day, it added.

"Once again the hospitality sector has been treated in appalling fashion with little notice about this closure, which will result in huge costs for our members who have to dump expensive stock," VFI's chief executive Padraig Cribben said. 

"There is also the equally important issue of staff who now face another extended period on the PUP. Many staff only returned to work because they were promised pubs serving food would remain open into January," Mr Cribben added. 

He also said that pubs who were allowed reopen for under three weeks must now reapply for the Covid-19 Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS).

"But at this stage, with little prospect of a full reopening in the short-term, we are calling for the CRSS to be increased for all pubs to 30% of 2019 turnover. Government must understand its decisions are decimating our trade so the supports on offer have to recognise that fact," Mr Cribben urged.

He also said the pub industry needs clear communications from Government about how it will be allowed resume trading. 

"There is zero clarity about what level of vaccine coverage we require before restrictions will be lifted. The longer the crisis continues the less confidence our members have that Government has any sort of plan to get pubs open," the VFI chief said. 

"Publicans urgently require a timeline because right now they're completely in the dark, which is having a massive impact on people's mental health," he added.

Meanwhile, the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) said the Government has laid off 25,000 people working in pubs across the country on Christmas Eve, generating enormous levels of stress amongst publicans and their staff

With the hospitality sector now set to close on Christmas Eve for the third time this year, the LVA said a new approach is now required before the stop/start mechanism devours the industry in 2021. 

The LVA also characterised the latest actions taken by Government today as proof of their strategy failing the hospitality sector.

"This is yet another example of horrendous treatment of the hospitality sector by the Government," Donall O'Keeffe, chief executive of the LVA, said. 

"The day before Christmas they are laying off half the staff in the industry and providing them with a very uncertain future having previously forsaken the other half of the industry working in traditional pubs," Mr O'Keeffe said.

The LVA CEO said the Government's whole strategy basically consists of one tool - lockdown. 

He said the Government has taken no alterations in their approach, adding that its "knee-jerk reaction" is to throw hospitality under the bus once more. 

"They seem hellbent on pursuing this course of action despite a complete absence of any statistical evidence showing that hospitality is the cause of the rise of infections in this country. They also continually fail to account for the extensive safety requirements implemented by the hospitality sector in this country," he added.

"Either the Government needs to come up with more sustainable solutions or the tug of war to have the hospitality sector reopen will begin again in earnest from the beginning of January. They can't keep doing this or this stop/ start approach will devour the industry in 2021," Mr O'Keeffe concluded.