They were already having a hard time before the pandemic, as many Cork streets, towns and villages saw closed pubs and faint signs over the once crowded pubs.
But 37 rebellious pubs in County Rebel have already called out last requests for the last time since the arrival of Covid-19 – the highest rate in Ireland – and more will surely follow, warns Vintner’s Federation of Ireland.
As NPHET meets this afternoon to decide on advice to the government ahead of what is planned as the final lifting of most restrictions on Friday, the VFI called for urgent clarification on plans to reopen.
However, while anxious businesses await the Cabinet decision expected to be made tomorrow, it is already too late for many family bars across Ripple County, which have given up the struggle to survive in unprecedented times.
A survey by VFI – which looked at recent pub license renewals – revealed that 5% of bars nationwide have remained completely closed since the start of the pandemic and that most will never reopen.
And in rural communities especially, the loss of these bars, leaving entire communities without a place for socializing, comes with closing banks, post offices and other facilities and services once they are taken for granted.
The survey by VFI showed that County Rebel had the highest rate of closure in the country – Cork lost 37 bars while it closed 33 public homes in Dublin.
Donegal, which includes only a small portion of the capital’s population, lost 33 pubs while Kerry saw 22 pubs that had not renewed their license.
While pubs that have not renewed their clubs can do so within the next five years, they are unlikely to do so because it would be nearly impossible to build trade again after such a long period.
It is also feared that many bars will be sold to real estate developers, demolished, converted into apartments, or left neglected in villages or areas where renovation or redevelopment does not make financial sense.
Both VFI and LVA say it is necessary to remove restrictions on trading as planned on Friday.
VFI President Padraig Cribben added: “These new figures reveal the dramatic impact of Covid on trade over the past 19 months.
“Losing 5% of bars in such a short time frame is unprecedented and underscores how the bar trade has borne the brunt of the pandemic restrictions.
“In light of recent speculation about a delay in ending restrictions, news that bars are closing across the country will only increase trade anxiety. Uncertainty is a major factor in why so many bars are closed, so the government must put an end to the crisis by Announcing that the easing of restrictions will continue as planned. »
The numbers about the shutdown are from an analysis of license renewals published by the Revenue Commissioners.
LVA President Donal O’Keefe added: « The loss of 349 pubs across the country indicates the scale of what has happened to the pub trade since March 2020.
These bars are closed even with government support.
“We believe that the reopening of late-night hospitality, the return of the counter, the end of mandatory table service, and the resumption of normal trading hours, should continue next Friday.
“If access is limited to those who have been vaccinated, there is no justification not to proceed with easing the rest of the restrictions.
“With more than 90% of the adult population vaccinated and vaccination cards likely to remain in place, if we don’t allow hospitality to circulate relatively normally now, when will we be able to?
“Expectations are high ahead of the October 22 hike for the simple reason that publicists are desperate to return to normal trading.
“Many bars and other hospitality companies are on hold at this moment and any further delays would be a step too far for some.
« The government should realize that the delays will push more businesses to the brink as they will join the 349 pubs already lost during the pandemic. »
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