Publicans in Dublin”s Temple Bar drinking district have reached a sobering milestone.
The Irish government ordered pubs shut on March 15, 2020, as the first cases of COVID-19 were registered.
Some managed to reopen for brief spells when restrictions were relaxed later in the year, but since Christmas, all have been closed once more in the nation’s third lockdown.
It means publicans endured a second consecutive St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) with their doors firmly shut.
“On St Patrick’s Day, we probably do about 100 kegs of Guinness. We’d have them three piled up here. Which would be about 8, 8 and a half thousand pints,” said Tom Cleary, Temple Bar pub owner.
“It’s a year on now and people are kind of fed up with it. We seem to have done all the right things, but we seem to be back where we started.”
Meanwhile, with just weeks to go before the planned opening of outdoor catering in England, many pubs are already reporting that their outdoor tables are fully booked.
But the British Beer and Pub Association say under half (43.2%) of the country’s pubs, restaurants and bars have the use of such spaces.
They are calling for the government to provide more support for ‘wet-led’ community pubs that have struggled with the requirement that drinkers can only be served a substantial meal.
The demand for tables is a good sign for publicans who are pinning their hopes on a strong rebound in trade in the coming months, especially when indoor areas are open from 17 May at the earliest, with the goal of lifting most restrictions by 21 June.
According to analysis by consultancy, CGA, as many as 2,000 pubs have been lost since the pandemic began.
Industry figures also show that UK beer sales have fallen by 2.1 billion pints with around 9.5 billion euros in lost trade.