Tuesday, 8 September 2020

And you think you’ve got it bad?

Anyone who thinks the licensed trade in England has been badly done to might consider casting a westward glance across the Irish Sea. Regular commenter Professor Pie-Tin has kept us updated on how the Irish Republic, as the map shows, is now the only country in the whole of Europe where you can’t visit a bar just to have a drink, not even outdoors. Apparently they are finally going to allow bars to reopen later this month, although a firm date has yet to be confirmed. And they are going to have to operate under such severe restrictions that many publicans doubt whether it will be worth their while.

Possibly as some kind of sop to the hospitality industry, the Irish government have announced a Stay and Spend scheme that will operate from the beginning of October to the end of April. Presumably this was modelled to some extent on the British Eat Out to Help Out initiative, but it is only a very pale shadow. The government-funded discount is only 20%,not 50% and, rather than being given at the time of purchase, it will be refunded as a tax credit at the end of the year, thus greatly reducing the immediacy of its impact. Plus the minimum spend is €25, so you will need to buy a pretty substantial meal. No getting a Wetherspoon’s dessert on its own, or a single coffee, at half price.

To add insult to injury, they have even introduced a bizarre requirement for pubs and restaurants to keep a record of every single food item purchased by their customers. Ostensibly, the reason is to confirm that customers have actually eaten a meal, which has been allowed for a couple of months provided there was a minimum spend of €9. Not only does this impose a huge bureaucratic burden on hospitality businesses, but it also has disturbingly totalitarian overtones. You can just imagine Public Health itching to get their hands on details of exactly who has eaten what.


  1. Who is going to read all these completed food forms?
    Maybe they are hoping to reduce unemployment by employing a small army of monitors, with concomitant supervisors, statistitians, section heads, department heads and of course a diverstity team.

  2. The Irish Government has achieved its primary objective of deterring me from visiting this year. Well done.

    Incidentally, I reckon half the GBG pubs I've visited in Devon and Dorset this last month wouldn't actually let me in, either. Service from outside hatch in Dawlish and Sherborne, greeters at the door taking you to an outside table, told off for approaching the bar trying to pay etc etc. The South West in general is a less enjoyable pubbing experience than elsewhere.

    1. But the requirements of GBG ticking lead to you mostly visiting dining pubs. I suspect in the proper boozers, like the one in Portland, you would have found a warmer welcome.

    2. I visited 3 pubs on a camping trip near Tavistock in Devon in the first week of August. The Peter Tavy Inn and Mary Tavy Inn are both 'food' pubs but good cask choice and bar service no problem (mainly visited outside of busy meal times). The Union Inn in Tavistock itself is a 'proper boozer', bar service with a no-nonsense and well-kept pint of Doom Bar. Also went to the Tamar Inn in Calstock, Cornwall, similar bar service. All pubs had sit-where-you-like seating indoors or out and no 'greeter' malarkey.

    3. The Tamar Inn, in Calstock, excellent pub, with a great view of the railway viaduct, I remember going there and taking a long uphill walk to Gunnislake for the four pubs there.

  3. I was planning a trip to Northern Ireland this year, which got cancelled when all this started. But when I looked at the possibility of going in September instead, it appeared that wet-led pubs and bars were still not allowed to open there, which contradicts the map colouring. (They had been hoping to reopen them at the start of the month, but this was postponed because of the rising number of infections.) This may have changed since I was doing my research two weeks ago, of course, but I have cancelled the trip anyway.

  4. Really sad what is happening in Ireland, read The professer's experience of the measures his local had to take, just to get open again, with a tie up to a local pizza place the only way to reopen, and the subsequent closure again as very few people wanted to spend money on a takeaway they didn't want just to have the opportunity to buy a beer.

    This is way over the top, especially as the actual death rate from Covid is so low,


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