The latest decision by the Government to delay the implantation of phase 4 of the country’s road to recovery in light of Covid 19 will have a detrimental impact on rural pubs, according to independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

The Roscommon-Galway representative lamented the fact that publican’s hopes have now been built up on two separate occasions, only for them to be dashed at the eleventh hour.

Speaking on the matter, he said: “When the pandemic gathered pace earlier this year, the publicans agreed to close their doors in the interest of preventing the spread of the virus.

“These publicans have lost out on almost five months of Revenue already. On two separate occasions now, their hopes have been raised. Frustration is growing within the industry with each passing day.

“If immediate action isn’t taken to support these publicans, then some pubs may never open their doors again – particularly in rural areas.

“Publicans cannot afford to remain closed indefinitely. Bills still need to be paid, despite the pandemic. Electricity, water, insurance and possibly rent or a mortgage still need to be paid.

“You also have to take into account the fact that publicans have spent considerable sums of money on preparing their premises for social distancing when they do get the green light to reopen – having installed hand sanitizers, new signage and screens etc.

“Many of these publicans who don’t serve food, of which there are about 3,5000, have been frustrated by the fact that restaurants and pubs serving food have been allowed to re-open.

“Publicans are more than willing to open responsibly and adhere to practical restrictions and guidelines. These business know the majority of their clientele and wouldn’t risk spreading the disease by being careless or acting irresponsibly.

“There are also approximately 30,000 people who depend on pubs for employment across the country.

“I believe it is unfair to speak about local pubs and night clubs in the same sentence. It is much easier for a publican to control customers in his premises and to regulate who comes and goes.

“The reopening of pubs in a responsible manner could also detract from the number of house parties taking place across the country, which aren’t being policed or where social distancing is non existent.

“While I understand the concerns of the health experts, I believe that pubs can reopen safely.

“It is also important to remember that people, in the main, have been cooped up for a number of months as a result of the Covid 19 crisis and they are craving the social element – however limited it may be in light of restrictions – that their local pubs offer.

“However, if pubs are forced to remain closed then immediate supports must be put in place by the Government,” Fitzmaurice concluded.

Michael Fitzmaurice – 086-1914565

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