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Almost 350 pubs have closed down since pandemic began

Some 349 pubs have closed since the start of the pandemic with industry representatives warning of the ongoing crisis facing the sector amid doubts about October 22 seeing full restrictions lifted.

here has been a 5pc drop in the number of pub licenses being issued as those in the hospitality business struggle to stay afloat in the face of the pandemic.

The figures, which were taken from an analysis of licence renewals published by the Revenue Commissioners, have revealed the full impact of the problems facing the sector.

In Dublin alone, there has been a closure of 33 public houses with 37 in Cork, 33 in Donegal and 22 in Kerry. The figures revealed the drop in licenses when the January 2020 tally was compared with September 2021.

Commenting on the figures, both the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) and Licenced Vintners’ Association (LVA) say it’s now crucial all restrictions are lifted on October 22, as was originally planned.

The two bodies say that given the vaccination figure of over 90pc among over-18s, they would like to see the Government reopening light-night hospitality and ending mandatory table service.

By this Friday, October 22, nightclubs and late bars will have been closed for a total of 585 consecutive days since the pandemic began. Using the vaccine pass system will help support the safe reopening of the sector, they say.

“These new figures reveal Covid’s dramatic impact on the trade over the past 19 months. To lose 5pc of pubs in such a short timeframe is unprecedented and underlines how the pub trade bore the brunt of pandemic restrictions,” said Padraig Cribben, chief executive of the VFI.

“In light of recent speculation about delaying the ending of restrictions, the news that pubs are closing across the country will only heighten anxiety in the trade.

“Uncertainty is a key factor in why so many pubs have closed so Government must put an end to the crisis by announcing the easing of restrictions will proceed as planned.”

LVA chief executive Donall O’Keeffe said anticipation is high ahead of October 22 as “publicans are desperate to get back to normal trading”.

“These pubs closed even with the Government supports in place. We think the reopening of late night hospitality, the return of the bar counter, the end of mandatory table service and a resumption of normal trading hours should proceed next Friday,” he said.

“If access is limited to those who have been vaccinated there is no justification for not proceeding the easing of the rest of the restrictions.”

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