THE IRISH government has been criticised for its decision to keep thousands of pubs across the country shut for the next three weeks.
On Tuesday evening, Taoiseach Micheal Martin announced that Ireland would delay its transition to Phase Four of the reopening plan, which was due on August 10.
Now, pubs that cannot offer customers a substantial meal will have to wait until August 31 at the very earliest to reopen - something many publicans are claiming will ultimately cripple the industry.
A joint statement released by the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) and the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) slammed the government's decision, accusing them of "abandoning" around 60% of all pubs around the country.
The two representative bodies said they believed that the hospitality sector as a whole was now facing a full-blown crisis, with thousands of jobs at stake, adding the government's sympathy will not save people's livelihoods.
"The Government has basically just abandoned half the pub sector," said Donall O"Keeffe, Chief Executive of the LVA.
"It’s becoming increasingly obvious that they don’t have a plan for dealing with our sector. We’re repeatedly being told that opening the pubs 'could lead to an increase in the virus'. Well when will that not be the case? Was that not a potential issue at the other phases too?" He added.
"This decision will be met with both fury and despair across the entire sector. It is creating intolerable pressure on those pubs still closed, their 25,000 staff, suppliers to the industry and all their families.
"The Government can’t keep stringing the entire sector along like this. Where is their plan? Where are their supports for the industry?"
"This is Groundhog Day for the trade as twice now the reopening of pubs has been postponed. The new Government’s decision has caused grave alarm within the trade as publicans face an extremely uncertain future with little to feel optimistic about," said VFI Chief Executive, Padraig Cribben.
"Make no mistake, this is a full-blown crisis for the trade as over 3,500 pubs must now remain shut.
"The Government has effectively denied pubs the ability to trade and as a result will have to provide substantial supports to our members, many of whom are deeply agitated at what they feel is the State abandoning a vital part of the hospitality sector."
Mr O'Keeffe went on to stress that the government needed to come up with a support package for pubs across the country, otherwise the industry faces ruin.
"There is only so much an industry can take. If the Government wants the pub sector to survive, there needs to be a solution for handling pubs during this public health emergency crisis.
"That means coming up with a meaningful support package for pubs whose doors remain shut by order of the Government," Mr. O’Keeffe concluded.