APPROXIMATELY SIX million pints of beer could be wasted if plans for the resumption of indoor service in pubs across Ireland are delayed.
An estimated 70,000 kegs have been brewed to restock the 3,500 hospitality outlets preparing to reopen across Ireland on July 5th.
These efforts could be in vain if the government decides to delay the next step in the gradual reopening of society amid concerns over the rising number of Covid-19 infections.
Ireland has witnessed a surge in the number of people contracting the Delta variant of the virus, which first emerged in India.
The variant accounts for approximately 20% of new cases in Ireland but already equates to 90% of those being recorded in the uK with experts predicting that the rest of Europe could hit those levels by August.
It’s a prediction that has sparked concern over whether the Government may be lifting lockdown rules around indoor dining and drinking too early.
However, Drinks Ireland|Beer believes any delay could have a significant impact on irish consumers during what is considered to be the peak holiday season.
The representative body for beer manufacturers and suppliers in Ireland believe that with the majority of people planning a staycation this summer, plans to eat or drink out to support local businesses will be hit, as there are capacity issues with outdoor hospitality.
They are also warning that any delay would likely impact the 15,000 -20,000 staff planning to return to work and would have extensive cost implications for the beer sector, economy, and the 3,500 pubs that have yet to open.
Stouts and certain ales have a short shelf life and should be fresh for consumers when venues reopen.
If the reopening date was to be pushed out, many kegs would also have to be collected for recycling, repurposing or destruction. Brewers have said that a lead-in time of at least 5 weeks is required to brew and deliver beer to pubs nationwide.
The sector has also been cleaning draught lines in pubs, and Drinks Ireland|Beer said that it takes 4 weeks to carry this out and cover the 7,000 pubs of Ireland. It had covered the 3,500 venues with outdoor spaces and was working through the additional 3,500.
Jonathan McDade, Head of Beer at Drinks Ireland said:
“Ireland’s hospitality sector and the country’s brewers have had a very challenging year. The yo-yo approach last year, which saw pubs open and close either nationally or regionally five times with very little notice, was logistically challenging and had massive financial consequences for brewers. This is something we expressed to Government time and time again, and something we hoped would never happen again. With the July 5th date set, the sector finally had some clarity, and indeed notice, to brew beer, deliver kegs and clean lines.
“We are calling on Government to consider the significant financial and economic consequences of delaying the reopening of pubs when making its decision. A significant amount of work has gone into brewing, beer line cleaning in pubs and deliveries to outlets over the past few weeks. All this work is jeopardised unless brewers get crystal clear clarity urgently from government on whether the 5th of July reopening is going ahead. If there is going to be a delay, we need a firm commitment on a new reopening date.
“The Government must consider the fact that pubs are safe environments, with stringent Covid measures in place. A decision about the perceived risk of reopening should not be considered in isolation of these factors.”