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Lockdown row Publicans say opening for two weeks at Christmas is "not enough"

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Padraig Cribben Chief Executive of the VFI

Padraig Cribben Chief Executive of the VFI

Padraig Cribben Chief Executive of the VFI

Frustrated publicans have said there needs to be a plan for January and February as reopening for just two weeks over Christmas is not good enough.

The head of the Vintners' Federation of Ireland said that Government plans to reopen parts of society should not just be focused on the festive period.

Speaking on RTÉ's Saturday with Katie Hannon, chief executive Padraig Cribben said he didn’t think that any publican is interested in opening for Christmas and closing down again.

“There are costs in starting up and closing down,” he said.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin has confirmed that he is currently aiming to enter Level 3 restrictions next month.

Under Level 3, bars and pubs serving food can open for take-away and delivery as well as serve a maximum of 15 customers outdoors.

However, Mr Cribben also said returning to Level 3 Covid-19 restrictions is not viable or practical come December.

"If you look at a rainy day like today, it's just not on," said the VFI chief.

He said people were going to socialise over Christmas and that it would be "in the home with no masks and no social distancing or in the controlled environment of a pub".

"For those pubs who want to open, they should be given the opportunity to do it,” he insisted.

He also said outlined what he thinks would happen if pubs in the north are open and pubs in the south are not.

"What we have in border counties is levels of infection four times higher in the north than the south and it is going to end up with people in the south going to hotels and pubs in the north and they will bring the virus back down south again,” he said.

Ireland is on course to exit a six-week Level 5 lockdown by December 1 as long as case numbers continue to drop.

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