The chief executive of the Vintners Federation of Ireland has said that all pubs should be allowed re-open in December because the guidelines are the same for food and non-food pubs.

Padraig Cribben said he was hearing “all kinds of nonsense” about the sizes of kitchens and chefs, but pointed out that less than a third of one percent of Covid cases have originated in the sector.

“There’s going to be alcohol in the pubs that do food, there’s going to be alcohol in the restaurants, and there’s going to be alcohol in all the domestic settings where there will be no social distancing where there will be no masks, where there will be no hand sanitization,’  Mr Cribben said.

He said he believes there is a “vindictiveness” in NPHET towards pubs and that a decision was made not to allow them re-open three weeks ago.

Mr Cribben said we are not just talking about pubs being closed for Christmas and the biggest month in the year for trade, but remaining closed into the new year.

There are whole whole villages and towns that will be bereft of any opportunity to socialise as a result, he said, because many pubs do not serve food.

Padraig Cribben said the industry, which generates 50,000 jobs, is the most regulated and monitored and everybody needs to be given the opportunity to trade.

He added that when pubs were opened, there were in excess of 30,000 inspections carried out by Gardai and very few were found to be in breach of guidelines.

Ronan Lynch, Chair of the Licensed Vintners Association and owner of the Swan Bar in Dublin, said the Government has shown “a total disregard” for pub owners since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne, Mr Lynch said that people are “very frustrated” and some owners “may take action” if there is not more clarity offered by the Government.

He also said it was “alarming” to hear reports that pubs may not be allowed to reopen unless they have a kitchen and a chef.

Meanwhile, the Licensed Vintners Association said the measures being put forward by Government are proof they do not trust publicans, pub staff or pub customers.

Following suggestions that the Government is to block the reopening of “wet” pubs next month while also making it more difficult for pubs who serve food to reopen, the LVA said such measures have nothing to do with public safety and amount to a political decision being taken by the Government.

Donall O’Keeffe, chief executive of the LVA, said that 250 “wet” pubs in Dublin will have been kept shut by the Government for 260 consecutive days by December 1.

“More than half the pubs in the country are “wet” pubs. Most were only allowed to open for two weeks from the end of September, long after the current rise in infections began,” he added.

“This is the Government formally saying they don’t trust the publicans of this country to follow the guidelines, they don’t trust pub staff to implement them and they don’t trust pub customers to behave themselves,” Mr O’Keeffe said.

“The Government is pushing a message of individual responsibility but when it comes to pubs and pub customers it seems they are quite happy to deny us such rights and freedoms,” he added.