• Massive number of pubs yet to open, with Cork, Galway, Kerry, Tipp, Mayo and Donegal particularly impacted
  • Many rural communities awaiting access to these community and hospitality venues

3,438 pubs who are yet to open have called for the urgent publication of the reopening guidelines, according the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI). Despite being due to open in just 11 days, these pubs still don’t know how they will need to adapt their businesses to ensure they comply with the public health requirements.

The delay is also causing anxiety in some rural communities, with many of these unopened pubs serving as the only gathering locations or hospitality venues in their area.

According to the VFI, the majority of rural pubs are yet to open, particularly along the western seaboard. The county with the largest number of unopened pubs is Cork with 473, followed by Galway (273), Tipperary (223), Kerry (221), Mayo (Mayo 218) and Donegal (180).

According to Mayo publican Marie Mellett, owner of Mellett’s Bar in Swinford, the lack of guidelines is hampering preparations for reopening. “After placing public health first by agreeing to close our business over 120 days ago, we’re now crying out for the guidelines that will allow us reopen,” says Marie. “It’s a simple question: ‘where are the guidelines?’ We are literally just days away from July 20th but there is nothing from government.

“For most rural pubs the bar counter is where all the action is, but we don’t even know if bar stools will be allowed. If they’re not, the impact on small pubs will be massive as many of our customers will only sit at the bar,” adds Marie.

Galway publican Joe Sheridan, who owns Walsh’s Bar in Dunmore, says he and his staff remain in limbo until the reopening guidelines are published. “I’m completely in the dark about how we should prepare the pub for reopening,” he says. “The guidelines are critically important for publicans who urgently need information about what work needs to be completed before we open.

“I also have staff wanting to know if they will be going back to work. The current situation is ludicrous and completely unfair to thousands of bar staff around the country and the local communities they serve. For most rural areas, the pub is far more than a place to have a drink, it’s where local communities come together. This delay is placing so much of our local life in jeopardy and leaves many villages without lights.”

For Vivian Walsh, owner of The Old Grainstore in Westport, Mayo, the absence of guidelines is a major worry as he continues to refurbish his pub ahead of reopening. “We’re making a substantial investment in our business by renovating the outside area to increase capacity, which is happening effectively in a vacuum as we don’t know what the guidelines will state. With just over a week to opening, to find ourselves in this situation is simply incredible.”

The full list of pubs yet to open by county is as follows:

Carlow                58
Cavan                 114
Clare                   169
Cork                    473
Donegal              180
Galway                273
Kerry                   221
Kildare                82
Kilkenny              94
Laois                   61
Leitrim                54
Limerick             208
Longford            54
Louth                 105
Mayo                  218
Meath                122
Offaly                 73
Roscommon     121
Sligo                  78
Tipperary          223
Waterford         125
Westmeath       97
Wexford           143
Wicklow           92Total              3,438