The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) has called on the Government to produce a coherent roadmap for sustainable reopening.

The VFI said that pubs are at the mercy of Government and NPHET decision making, which will see food outlets closing just three weeks after reopening in early December.

Pubs serving food reopened two weeks ago after going through a six-week closure while traditional pubs are closed since 15th March, except for a brief two-week trading period in late September.

Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) described the Government approach of singling out pubs, restaurants and hotels as “crushing the hospitality sector”.

Donall O’Keeffe, Chief Executive of the LVA, said: “How can an entire industry be expected to keep going like this? Allowed to open up and then shut down again after only 3 weeks. The implications this will have on staff, on stock, on bills and on the mental health of those working in hospitality is going to be enormous.

“It is clear that the Government’s yo-yo approach isn’t working.”

Padraig Cribben, VFI Chief Executive, said: “This latest announcement caps an utterly disastrous year for the pub sector. While the vast majority of our members never got to reopen in early December, pubs serving food were given a chance to trade into next year but now that’s been snatched from them.

“It’s as clear as day that the sector needs a concise explanation – a roadmap – from Government and NPHET detailing under what conditions all pubs will be allowed reopen. The prolonged uncertainty has placed our members in the cruellest of limbos where there is zero clarity from decision makers about the trade’s future.

“What’s particularly galling for our members is the latest Health Surveillance Protection Centre (HPSC) data reveals pubs are not responsible for any outbreaks while a massive 79% are traced to private dwellings. Pubs are safe, regulated environments, a fact NPHET appears to wish to ignore.

“We need face-to-face engagement with Government immediately as the hospitality sector needs clarity now. A potential shut down date of 28th December will effectively close many businesses on Christmas Eve as few will wish to reopen for a couple of days only to close again. It’s a complete mess,” concluded Mr Cribben.

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