Relieved publicans expressed renewed hope for their embattled businesses as they looked forward to serving customers outdoors from June 7.
ublin publican Alan Campbell and Louth publican Conor O’Neill were delighted to begin planning the reopening of their pubs fully later in the summer.
At The Bankers pub, at the corner of Trinity Street and Dame Lane in Dublin, Alan Campbell was organising the eventual return to work of staff members, but many of his former workers are no longer in the country.
“I had a total of 27 staff between full-time and part-time workers when the pandemic started,” Alan said.
“Many of them were from other countries, so they left Ireland. Only six staff are confirmed to be coming back so far, so staffing is going to be a big problem. I think publicans and restaurant owners in the city could really struggle to cope with a shortage of staff.”
He added that he would like more clarity around the date when all pubs can start serving customers indoors.
“It seems that full reopening will be early July unless the Covid infection numbers go bananas. The main thing is that once pubs open fully that they are allowed to remain open.
“The biggest heartbreak for pub businesses was when we had to close down for a second time. But things are looking a lot better now as more and more people are vaccinated.
“I think there are hopes of some kind of herd immunity being reached with 80pc of the population vaccinated by the end of July.”
He is already thinking of the number of tables he will set up on Dame Lane outside his pub.
Publican Conor O’Neill and his family run The Glyde Inn pub at Annagassan on the Co Louth coast. The family business was named National Pub of the Year 2018 as well as receiving the Best Food Pub of the Year Award at the same time.
“We’re delighted the 15-person limit for outdoor dining will not be continued. We have plenty of room for 60 diners outdoors, with wonderful sea views,” said Conor.
“We’re glad the €9 meal rule for people ordering alcohol has been scrapped too as it was very unpopular — although we sold a lot of razor clams because of it.
“While the razor clams were popular with tourists, we had many locals who wouldn’t try them for love nor money. But when they began to buy them as part of the €9 meal rule, they got to love them.”
The pub was popular with US tourists and National Geographic named the pub as “one of the best places to eat in the world” in 2019, he said.
His grandfather bought the pub in the 1960s and Conor’s parents Anne and Paul began running it in 1977.
The fishing village was the largest Viking settlement in Ireland from 841AD until the Vikings moved to Dublin 12 years later. The pub hopes to promote the Viking heritage of the area to attract more customers.
Publican Paul Moynihan in Donard, Co Wicklow, welcomed the announcement on reopenings but only as a first step.
Speaking as president of the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland, he said: “A full reopening of indoors hospitality must take place a matter of weeks after outdoors reopens on June 7.
“We’re moving in the right direction. The horrendous division created by allowing food pubs to open while traditional pubs had to remain shut is now gone, consigned to history like the dreadful term ‘wet pubs’.”
Allowing all pubs to open for outdoor service on the June bank holiday was a “win” for the trade, he said.
“It’s in the lap of the gods how the remainder of the year plays out but, given social distancing, publicans will be obliged to keep numbers well down,” he added.
“Government supports are going to be crucial well into 2022 if our pubs are to recover.”