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Some Mayo pubs will close forever due to Covid-19

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CONCERNED Alan Gielty, Chairman of Mayo VFI (pictured voting at a previous AGM) is worried about the future of a number of Mayo pubs due to the current pandemic. Pic: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Mayo VFI chairman says publicians should be commended for closing

Anton McNulty

THE decision to close all pubs in the county for two weeks to help curb the outbreak of the coronavirus will result in some permanent pub closures in Mayo, according to the VFI in Mayo.
Pubs and bars across the county closed from yesterday (Monday) until March 29 following a recommendation of the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) to its members to close after stating that social distancing is not possible in pubs.
Chairman of Mayo VFI, Alan Gielty of Gielty’s Clew Bay Bar and Restaurant on Achill Island, said publicans around the county should be commended for deciding to close for St Patrick’s Day. However, he stressed that it will result in hardship for a number of rural pubs.
“In rural Ireland, because January and February can be very quiet, a lot of pubs depend on Paddy’s Day to help pay the bills, and not all pubs will open again after this. There are 7,000 pubs around the country, and it is expected that 500 to 600 will never open again. It is inevitable some of them will be in Mayo.  
“Publicans get a lot of bad publicity but they must be commended for closing on one of the busiest days of the year. They will be hit financially by this decision, and it was a tough decision financially to make, but it was done for the health of the people,” he told The Mayo News.
‘Into the unknown’
Mr Gielty said that social distancing couldn’t work in pubs, particularly at weekends, and especially on St Patrick’s Day, when people travel home for the celebrations and often frequent a number of pubs during the day.
There are currently 210 pubs in Mayo, with 178 associated with the VFI. As Chairman of the Mayo VFI, Alan said that over the weekend, he was inundated with calls from publicans on whether they would have to close and worried about the future.
“We are into the unknown at the moment. We are closed until March 29, but we don’t know if we will have to remain closed after that. We are coming into Easter time after that which is another busy time of the year. I thought March would be a good month for me but I have had to cancel a number of functions. I was talking to a lot of publicans and they are nervous about the future.” he said, adding that banks now need to look after their customers.
“We don’t know when we will be open again, and that is not only affecting the pubs and hotels, it is also affecting our suppliers and staff. The fruit and veg supplier and the meat supplier and other suppliers will be affected by this, and we don’t know how long it will last. If people who work in pubs and restaurants are not getting a wage they still have bills and mortgages to pay.
“The banks have to remember that they were bailed out by the people, and it is now time that the banks have to help the people. There are pubs who won’t have an income in the next couple of weeks, and now is the time for the banks to pay something back,” he said.