Most owners of closed pubs believe they will be out of business by 2021

Two-thirds of pub owners who cannot open their premises because of Covid-19 restrictions believe they will be out of business by the start of next year.

And the Government is losing the support of the pub sector, according to the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI).

The representative body for pubs outside Dublin was reacting to a new survey of 1,539 VFI members whose pubs are still closed, which showed 82pc no longer support the Government.

It found that two-thirds of pub owners (65pc) who are not allowed to open their doors believe they will go out of business by January 2021, based on current conditions, and some 92pc believe pubs have been scapegoated during this crisis.

The survey found that almost half (48pc) of the pubs still closed have accrued debts of €16,000 or more since the lockdown began, while one in five (19pc) of those pubs have accumulated debts of at least €30,000 since having to close their doors in March.

The survey was organised ahead of the Government decision on whether the 3,500 pubs still closed across the country can reopen on Monday, August 31, with the Cabinet due to discuss this issue in the coming days.

“This survey highlights how much the pubs that are still closed feel abandoned by the Government,” said VFI chief executive Padraig Cribben.

“They feel like they have been cast adrift with no support and only shallow declarations of sympathy.

“There is little expectation that the Government will allow these pubs to reopen next week. So the question is what are they going to do for these pubs who are being deprived from opening their doors by Government order?

“If they are being asked, as the Government has put it, to ‘make national sacrifice’ then the Government must have a plan that recognises that sacrifice and allows these businesses to survive. They need to announce support, not sympathy, this week.”

The VFI said that in light of the public health conditions, most in the industry believe the reopening will be delayed for a third time and the focus is on what plan the Government will bring forward for those pubs that will be closed.

It said a further three-week delay in reopening will mean these pubs will be closed for six months, with around 25,000 people employed by these businesses having been unable to work throughout that period.

The survey showed 95pc of the pubs still closed believe they will need grant aid for each week of closure for their pub to survive, while only three out of 10 would be in favour of low-interest loans.

It also revealed that 63pc of the publicans whose pubs are still closed are suffering from extreme stress.

Four out of 10 are worried about being able to put food on the table, and six out of 10 are considering closing their business for good.

Irish Independent

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