The two vintners groups have said they are "not optimistic" that pubs will be allowed to reopen at the end of the month.

The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) and the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) have issued a joint statement following a meeting yesterday with senior ministers.

They are calling for direct financial aid for businesses, which they say have been unable to trade for half of the year by Government order.

The groups have outlined details of a proposed 'Pub Support Package' with payment that ranges between €207 weekly to €1,650 weekly, depending on the rateable valuation of the premises.

The payments should apply form 29 June onwards for each week that the businesses are closed, the statement says.

The groups also say the PUP and Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS) payments should be maintained for the duration of the closures.

Both organisations say that pubs are being treated differently from other businesses, which have been allowed to reopen again and therefore should have ring-fenced supports put in place.

The restart grant is currently being provided to businesses, but the VFI and LVF say that pubs that are being forced to stay closed are getting the same grants as those that have been trading since 19 June.

They say 3,500 pubs employing 25,000 people have been unable to trade for almost half (46%) of the year, and a support package must be announced by 31 August.

"There is growing scepticism across the industry that the Government will allow them to open their doors at the end of the month, in light of the critical public health situation that has been developing and the Government prioritising of the reopening of schools", the statement says.

The groups say 3,500 pubs have been unable to trade for almost half of the year

If a further delay in reopening pubs is announced, the groups say it is critical that a meaningful support package is announced simultaneously.

They say this should come in the form of grant aid, not "loans or cuts in indirect tax which will not benefit pubs that are closed."

Donall O'Keeffe, the Chief Executive of the LVA, said business have "already been left in the lurch" with their expected reopening delayed twice already.

"Few in the industry expect they will be allowed to reopen at the end of the month, given the gravity of the public health situation", he said. "None of these pubs want to stay closed, but if they have to, then the Pub Support Package removes the income uncertainty which is currently leaving these pubs at breaking point.

"As the Government has ring-fenced these pubs from the rest of the economy, it's time they ring-fenced specific support for closed pubs too."

Padraig Cribben, the Chief Executive of the VFI, said the survival of many businesses depends on such a package.

"As we have made clear from the outset of this crisis, pubs want the opportunity to trade responsibly", he said.

"The pubs that are still closed can't wait to get their doors open again, to interact with their customers and to earn a living. These businesses will abide by the public health requirements, they just want the same chance as was granted to the rest of the economy."

Read more:
126 pubs now suspected of breaching Covid-19 regulations
NPHET considers colour-coded response to replace phases
Latest coronavirus stories

The Tánaiste has said that if pubs are unable to reopen at the end of August, he would like to be in a position to have a package of additional financial supports for pubs and nightclubs.

Leo Varadkar said the Government is trying to manage risk and stop the virus circulating in the community, and that while he is looking forward to going to pubs and nightclubs again, they are not as important as schools.

Children can recover from the loss of three or four months of school, he said, but any more than that would have serious economic and social consequences.

Mr Varadkar said he understands the concerns of publicans, adding that in some ways, they are being asked to make sacrifices for the rest of society.

He also said the Government is considering a number of additional financial supports to help businesses in Offaly, Kildare and Laois, which he hopes to announce tomorrow or the next day.

Mr Varadkar pointed out that there are a number of sectors that may not be able to open at all for many months, particularly pubs and the entertainment industry, and these sectors will need a "survival plan", extra care, extra attention and extra support.

Frehill's Tavern in Crumlin, Dublin

A Dublin pub owner has said she does not think the sector will fully reopen before October at the earliest.

Ann-Marie Frehill, who runs Frehill's Tavern in Crumlin, described the last few months as "horrendous".

She and her husband Sean have been in the pub industry for 35 years, and have echoed today's calls from the two Vintners groups for financial support from government.

"We can't sustain it past October because people are going to be looking for their money", Ms Frehill told RTÉ News. "We have supplies out the back that have to go back. We still have ESB, gas and mortgage."

She said the bank account is "drained" every month because direct debits are coming out, but there is nothing going back in.

Moratoriums on mortgages and other bills end in September, she added.

"I would certainly like some support from the Government to be able to open up the doors again", Ms Frehill said. "It would mean an awful lot to us to know we have a cushion."

Additional reporting by Aisling Kenny and Laura Hogan