Can Wet Bars re-open in Ireland?

Can Wet Bars re-open in Ireland?

Irish Government announces date to re-open bars and pub but guidelines to be approved

The Irish Government has announced plans for the remaining pubs and bars in Ireland to open with a target date set for the 21st September. The actual opening of so called “wet bars” is still subject to heath advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) on or before that time.

The draft guidelines which have been circulated are similar to those previously issued for the re-opening of bars and restaurants that served food. Amongst the measures are the following proposed guidelines:

  1. Patrons must arrive in parties of no more than six from no more than three households.
  2. Patrons must stay a maximum of 105 minutes.  However this does not apply where strict social distancing of two metres can be maintained.
  3. The bar or pub must operate table service only. No drinks at the bar.
  4. Pubs must record time and date of arrival and contact details of the lead person.
  5. Most significantly bars will not be allowed to pay live music.
  6. Smoking areas must be seated, where possible,
  7. Bars and Pubs must close at 11.30pm,

In addition to the above sample list of measures the NPHET has also indicated that bars and pubs may have to add more toilet capacity to ensure social distancing

The prospect of re-opening the bars in an industry under immense financial pressure has been welcomed. Some concerns have been raised about the proposed obligations on bars that do-reopen.

The recent introduction of financial supports for bars and pubs in Ireland announced by the Irish Government includes restart grants of up to €6,500.00 and significantly a waiver of excise licence renewal fees and court stamp duties (application fees) for renewal applications. A number of bars holding live music events were in the process of renewing their annual Music & Signing Licence without the prospect any financial return from this cost. The same position persists for bars and pubs holding a Dance Licence for late night opening post 11.30pm. By the date of the announcement on the 28th August a number of applications had already been submitted at full costs prior to the 1st September deadline. These applicants must now apply for a refund of Court fees paid. Please see our separate article on this process.

With Covid-19 related cases rising in both Dublin and Limerick, it remains to be seen whether wet bars can re-open in Ireland or certainly in these locations. We will post updates here.