Passport system will add another layer of pressure – Bawnboy publican

“It is going to be very difficult to manage the new EU passport system in pubs.”

That’s the view of Sheila McKiernan from the Keepers Arms in Bawnboy, who is a member of the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) national management committee.

She feels traditional publicans now have a slim window in which to capitalise on the summer tourist market in August and perhaps the first two weeks in September and regain some lost ground in trading terms.

The policing of Digital Covid Certificates for indoor service, Ms McKiernan feels, will depend who you are dealing with.

“It will add another layer of pressure on top of what we are endeavouring to do at present,” she said.

“We are doing outside service at present and you have extra staff on to cover that – now you will be trying to manage inside as well as outside,” explained the publican.

“It will be difficult, but it is something we will have to work with for the time being until things get that little bit better. Another difficulty is the fact that a lot of young staff are unvaccinated,” said Ms McKiernan.

It’s understood, however, that the new laws will include an exemption for such staff.

“You are doing everything in your power to protect your customers as well as your staff.

Parents with sons and daughters will be put in a pod and they will be two meters away from people at another table. Essentially that arrangement was there last year and it worked very well,” continued Ms McKiernan.

As long as this social distancing requirement remains, it cuts a premises indoor capacity by half, she maintains.

“Your outside capacity will have to be utilised to make trading viable.

There are a lot of places that have not been open in the last 16 months and, for them to be economically viable, will be difficult because the supports will all be gone,” continued Ms McKiernan.

“There will be people trading at 70% less than they normally would do. A lot of places would do a big percentage of their trade from the counter and that is not in the equation right now. People can’t sit at the counter and that might return in September,” she added.

Ms McKiernan is calling on people to support their local bars and restaurants through this difficult time.