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27/07/2021

Longford publicans left out in cold as indoor dining row grows

Longford publicans left out in cold as indoor dining row grows

Michael Murphy and his daughter Davina behind the counter in Murph's Bar this week

Longford publicans have heaped fresh pressure on government bosses to devise a “clear roadmap” for the long awaited return of indoor hospitality.

Local vintners representatives reacted with fury this week after Taoiseach Micheál Martin confirmed that most indoor socialising will remain off the menu for several more weeks.

Longford publican Michael Murphy of Murph's Bar, said the decision was one which has left an industry already struggling to regroup from 16 months of enforced closure, in limbo.

“There is no roadmap and there is no clear indication as to when we can (reopen indoor hospitality),” he said.

A bar owner for more than two decades, Mr Murphy said there were concerns among industry officials over how the Government planned to proceed with the continued reopening of hospitality services.

He said the mooted introduction of rapid antigen tests to screen people for Covid-19 as well as a new vaccine ID system for indoor dining had raised more questions than answers.

“We don't know how it will work,” he said.

“Will it be this new testing system or will they be allowing fully vaccinated people only to come inside.

“It just looks like it is going to be very hard to manage.”

Those anxieties were given further credence over the weekend with senior vitners officials demanding social distancing be scrapped for indoor dining if vaccine passes are introduced.

Under the current Covid-19 restrictions, tables must be kept two metres apart if customers are staying longer than 105 minutes.

For the likes of Mr Murphy, the return to indoor services can't come soon enough.

“We are only just ticking over with the outdoor,” he said.

Chairman of Longford Vitners Association Gerry Lynn wasted little time in underlining those sentiments.

“I don't know where we (publicans) are really at,” he said.“When you look at it, these are people's liveihoods which are at stake and it just looks like nobody cares.

“It's a feeling which a lot of especially rural publicans share.”

Those comments come as talk intensifies around the speculated introduction of digital Covid Certificates.

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