The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) and the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) has warned that the country will face a “two-tier Christmas” if the hospitality sector remains closed when the current Level 5 restrictions end.

One third of the pubs in Dublin – about  250 premises – have not opened for a single day since March 15.

Almost half of the pubs throughout the country traded for a total of just over two weeks during that period, before being closed down again when the Government tightened the restrictions ahead of the lockdown.

The vintners said that pub staff all over the country are contacting their employers to ask if they can return to work in December.

Pub workers remain concerned that they can not afford Christmas for their families on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP).

They said that if pubs remain closed they believe a deep division will be created as large sections of the economy are allowed to go back to work and receive their normal salaries in the run up to Christmas, while the families of those working in the hospitality industry must watch on.

Highlighting NPHET’s failure to provide any statistical evidence which shows that pubs and the wider hospitality sector have been a high source of infections in Ireland, both the LVA and the VFI has called on the Government to permit indoor service for the hospitality sector in the run up to Christmas.

The vintners said that publicans and their staff have already proved they can successfully and safely open under government guidelines.

“This was shown when the food pubs reopened in June and when the traditional pubs outside Dublin reopened towards the end of September. There were no increases in the infection rate attributed to pubs,” Padraig Cribben, the chief executive of the VFI, said.

Donall O’Keeffe, CEO of the LVA, said that it was OK for the Government to impose this burden on tens of thousands of families all across Ireland.

“It’s not ok for Government policy to be creating a “haves and have nots” division all over the country around Christmas,” he added.