The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) has called the new guidelines for indoor dining ‘onerous and impractical’ to operate, while also asking for customers to cooperate with staff who will be working under challenging conditions.

The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) has said that the ability to reopen for indoor hospitality will come with “relief, hope and nervousness” for many in the hospitality sector.

Over 3,000 pubs reopened on 26th July and over 25,000 staff have headed back to work as a result.

The new guidelines to permit indoor drinking and dining state customers must be fully vaccinated or recently recovered from Covid to gain entry to a venue. The documentation confirming a customer’s status will be checked by pub staff at the front door.

Donall O’Keeffe, Chief Executive of the LVA, said: “The relief of trading will undoubtedly be tinged with trepidation. There are a lot of mixed feelings about reopening and what it’s going to mean in terms of handling difficult customers and protecting the welfare of staff.

“All hospitality premises should know that any business that flout the rules have the book thrown at them. This is far too important. Businesses taking chances pose risks to public health and also endanger the future of our sector. Everyone who is trading has to follow the guidelines.

“Of course the reopening of indoor hospitality is only the next step in this process. Our sector still has some way to go before we are operating normally. After all, we were told these were ‘temporary measures’. In the weeks ahead as the vaccine rollout progresses there will be a need for this system and the guidelines to be reviewed. There is still a long road ahead before our sector is truly back on track,” Mr. O’Keeffe said.

Padraig Cribben, VFI Chief Executive, said: “Our message to customers is simple: ‘please work with us as we get used to these new guidelines’.

“The guidelines are onerous and cumbersome for staff to implement. Pubs will have to record the personal details of every person entering the venue while keeping a separate, anonymous, record that confirms vaccine passes have been checked. It’s not a practical system for business owners to operate so we’re asking people to be patient, cooperate and please remember that publicans and their staff are only doing their job.

“The Government made it clear this was the only solution to get pubs open so it’s this or remain closed until October at the earliest. While we’re far from happy about how our members are reopening it’s important to remember this is only a temporary measure and our expectation is that the requirement to check vaccine certs will be removed as soon as possible.”

VFI President Paul Moynihan, who runs his family pub in Donard, Co Wicklow, said: “It’s only fair that pubs with no outdoor space are allowed reopen. While outdoor trading has been a success for some publicans, reopening indoors gives businesses a chance to make ends meet.

“The key message I’ve received from publicans is that once we’re open we stay open. There can be no return to more lockdowns, as the consequences of such a move for the trade don’t bear thinking about.”

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