Ireland’s leading Vintners organisations have called on the Government to allow indoor trading ‘no later’ than 1st July.

The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland said that after sacrificing their businesses for over 15 months, now is the time for Government to confirm to its members that pubs can fully reopen by the first week in July in time for the traditional start of the summer tourist season.

The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) praised the Government, saying the success of the vaccine rollout should facilitate the resumption of indoor hospitality by the 1st July at the latest.

Indoor hospitality is due to resume for all hospitality outlets in Northern Ireland from Monday, while hotels are to resume indoor service from 2nd June.

While the VFI welcomed the reopening of pubs in Ireland for outdoor trading on 7th June, for the vast majority of its members running an outdoor-only business is not sustainable so clarity on when publicans can resume indoor trading is required.

Padraig Cribben, VFI Chief Executive, said: “After an horrendous 15 months, it’s great to see the country reopen and publicans along with their staff are certainly looking forward to being part of that process. The successful vaccination programme sends a strong signal that life is returning to something approaching normal.

“This week pubs in the North will reopen indoors, three weeks after outdoor trading started there. We have said all along that pubs in the Republic should follow the same timeline, which would see our members reopen indoors by 1st July.

“We can’t have a two-tier pub sector on the island for longer than a couple of weeks as already people are crossing the border to socialise.

“Our members are looking forward to reopening for outdoor trading on 7th June but that is only the first step,” added Mr Cribben.

Donall O’Keeffe, Chief Executive of the LVA, said: “While we welcome the fact that outdoor hospitality will return in another couple of weeks, unfortunately not all pubs and restaurants will be in a position to provide service of that nature. Outdoor is a very short term solution to facilitate some resumption of activity but it certainly won’t allow for the recovery of the hospitality industry and full resumption of employment in the sector.

“We also strongly welcome recent reports that social distancing requirements will be 1 metre for both outdoor and indoor service and that no time limits will apply. The abolition of the artificial divide between food pubs and traditional pubs is also a huge positive for our sector. These will really help our recovery.”

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