The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) and the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) have warned that the country will face a “two-tier Christmas” if the hospitality sector remains closed when it emerges from the current lockdown.

Pub staff from all across the country are contacting employers to ask if they can return to work in December, saying they can’t afford Christmas for their families on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP). This problem is likely to impact tens of thousands of families who work in or supply pubs and the rest of the hospitality sector, if they are kept closed by the Government in December.

The vintners believe such a situation will create deep division in the country, if large sections of the economy are allowed to go back to work and receive their normal salaries in the run up to Christmas, while the families of those working in the hospitality industry must watch on.

Both the LVA and the VFI has called on the Government to permit indoor service for the hospitality sector in the run up to Christmas.

One third of the pubs in Dublin (approximately 250) have not opened for a single day since the 15th March, while almost half of the pubs throughout the country traded for a total of just over two weeks during that period, before being closed down again when the Government tightened the restrictions ahead of the lockdown.

“If pubs and the rest of the hospitality sector are kept closed in December, while the rest of the economy is allowed to trade then there will be a two-tier Christmas in this country,” said Donall O’Keeffe, Chief Executive of the LVA. “It’s not ok for the Government to impose this burden on tens of thousands of families all across Ireland. It’s not ok for Government policy to be creating a ‘haves and have nots’ division all over the country around Christmas.

“If as the Government’s pre lockdown rhetoric put it, Christmas is to be ‘saved’ for the 50,000 people working in the pub sector, then there simply can’t be a two-tier Christmas,” said Padraig Cribben, Chief Executive of the VFI. “That means allowing indoor trading in pubs and throughout the hospitality sector next month. Limiting hospitality businesses to a 15 person outdoor capacity simply won’t do in December. The Government might as well just take the keys away for most of these businesses.  It certainly won’t allow 90% of the sector to go back to work,” Mr. Cribben concluded.

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