Pubs still very unsure of opening on July 20
Up to 50 percent of pubs in Mayo will not be viable to reopen under the current social distancing guidelines, with the VFI expecting major job losses unless supports are given to the sector.
Pubs serving food were allowed to reopen from last Monday but the majority of pubs around the county will not be able to reopen until July 20. The Vintners Association of Ireland (VFI) predicts that up to 4,000 jobs could be permanently lost in Mayo in the sector even if the county’s 373 pubs regain half their normal capacity by the end of 2020.
Alan Gielty, the Chairman of Mayo VFI, told The Mayo News that he was being contacted by Mayo publicans worried that they will not be able to open under the current restrictions.
“I am getting phone calls from publicans from all over the county in traditional standalone family pubs who say that if the table only service remains in place and the social distancing guidelines remain the same, they will not be viable. Pubs make their money on volume of sales, and if they are not busy they don’t make money.
“I would say that 50 percent of pubs in Mayo would not be viable to reopen at the moment, and while I’m not saying they won’t open they will not be making money,” he said.
Alan, who runs Gielty’s Clew Bay Bar on Achill Island, opened last week for food service. He said that without selling food his business would not be viable, as he has lost capacity for 35 people. He said the absence of stools at the bar creates a strange experience for the pubs and how they will operate in future will depend on the guidelines.
“In terms of what will happen when all the pubs are allowed to reopen on July 20 is a bit of the unknown. We just don’t know what will happen because we haven’t been given any guidelines. If you take a person who has sat in the same seat at the bar for 30 years and now you have to tell him he can’t sit there, it will be difficult for a lot of people to get their head around.”
The VFI is calling on the Government to reduce the VAT rate on alcohol sales from 23 percent to 9 percent until December. Alan said the publicans need support.
“The Government will have to pay for all this and the only way it will is by giving small businesses a chance to get back on their feet. We are not getting support at the moment. To get back in business and make our customers feel comfortable we had to pay for PPE, hand sanitisers, signage and training for staff, and we have to pay for all of it. Pubs need help, and at the moment it is not coming,” he said.