Fianna Fáil Senator Eugene Murphy has welcomed the fact that ‘wet pubs’ look set to reopen within a few weeks, albeit with challenging guidelines.
“The past five to six months have been a very difficult time for everyone and I am conscious of the struggle for many publicans whose doors have remained shut for such a long time. I know the guidelines will be challenging and difficult to operate but it is a positive step in the right direction,” said Senator Murphy.
The draft guidelines stipulate that physical distancing can be relaxed to 1m in a controlled environment, but that pre-booking and time-limited slots will not be required if a physical distance of 2m can be maintained.
“I have been in contact with the Taoiseach about this issue and I must say as a Government representative it is very difficult to deal with this situation and maintain a balance. It is very easy for the Opposition to shout and roar, but the Government is dealing with unchartered territory and the focus had to be on tackling Covid 19. It was extremely important to get the schools back and now that the reopening of schools seems to be going well so far, we can progress with the re-opening of wet pubs,” said Senator Murphy.
The Fianna Fáil Senator for Roscommon/Galway acknowledged the important societal role played in particular by rural pubs. “It’s not about abusing alcohol, the rural pub is a place to meet, to connect with friends and neighbours to engage and debate and have a chat over a few pints. I would be very concerned for the mental health of many older people in particular as many of them might not see one person from one end of the week to the next and the local pub was an important community focal point for them,” said Senator Murphy.
“I am confident that publicans will find a way to make this work and in fairness the draft guidelines for ‘wet pubs’ only contain a few additional restrictions than those currently imposed upon premises serving food. Publicans are desperate to reopen and I believe they can make this work,” concluded Senator Murphy.