IT'S FEARED that more than 22,000 people working in hospitality in Ireland could be out of a job soon with pub sales figures expected to take a heavy hit due to the Covid-19 crisis.
A report by Dublin City University Economist Anthony Foley predicted that alcohol sales in pubs would decline by around 50% during the second half of 2020.
More worryingly is that Foley says that he deems this an "optimistic" forecast.
The report states: "The current outlook is grave. Even if pubs regain half their usual capacity by year's end, which is an optimistic scenario, as many as 22,500 jobs could be permanently lost.
"Not to mention countless more in supporting trades like catering, security and entertainment.
"It is a fallacy to presume that businesses that do close as a result of the Covid-19 recession will simply reopen in a different form next year.
"The impact of mass closures will be long lasting, especially in regional parts of the country. Indeed, the impact of this is more than economic; it is socially and culturally significant."
After remaining closed for almost four months due to the pandemic, around half of Ireland's pubs reopened their doors to the public last Monday.
Those pubs which can offer substantial meals (costing €9 or more) to customers were allowed to open again, while the rest will have to wait until the start of Phase Four on July 20.
It's estimated that two-thirds of all pubs outside Dublin are currently closed, and due to the fact that so many of them are small, family-owned businesses, there are growing fears about sustainability.
Not only will social distancing measures need to be adhered to, which will reduce the amount of custom pubs get generally, surveys suggest that a significant majority of people in Ireland are still uncomfortable with the idea of returning to pubs for the time being.
With sales set to nosedive, and financial support from the government about to dissipate, Ireland's pub scene, as we (used to) know and love it, may never be the same again.