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[00:00:01]

That pot Kenny show on Newstalk. Well, now the cabinet is set to agree that pubs without a restaurant license will not be allowed to reopen on Monday. The owner of the castle in Cork City, chairperson of the Vintners Federation of Ireland, Michael O'Donovan, is on the line. Michael, good morning. Good morning.

[00:00:24]

The news is not good if the cabinet goes along with the advice of effort. Yes, I suppose, look, from the very start of this pandemic back in March, the cabinet has always agreed with an effort. So hearing the news coming from the acting chief medical officer last night and I suppose was a blow to us that we won't be opening next Monday. But I think his comments afterwards that it could be several more weeks before we open was of more concern because it's just putting uncertainty in a snow.

[00:00:57]

Look, the last couple of weeks have been really difficult, ruling three weeks at a time and getting your hopes up. And I suppose the first two times we purchased stock, we brought staff back in to retrain them, to be told a couple of days out from our perceived opening days that we weren't opening. At least this time, I suppose we saw the numbers creeping up and we didn't really order stock in the last couple of days. But still, I suppose it's it's of no consequence today to be told that we're not opening on Monday.

[00:01:31]

And I suppose, as I said, I suppose the more concerning part is we we just don't know when it's going to happen.

[00:01:38]

OK, now now, Michael, the stats from yesterday at the department and the agency is monitoring 393 clusters of those 252 are surrounding what happens in people's homes, whether it's house parties or dinner parties or 21st birthday parties or, you know, anniversaries, whatever it might be.

[00:02:02]

They're associated with a domestic cluster, but it does.

[00:02:07]

Domestic clusters normally involve the consumption of alcohol.

[00:02:11]

And they probably say, well, I'll tell you, if we open another set of circumstances where people can consume alcohol, we're likely to have more clusters. Maybe that's their logic.

[00:02:23]

Look, I suppose pubs that are operating during food are open since the 21 June. There's there is one or two instances that have come out of pubs, but very, very few host parties have been an ongoing concern since the very start of this pandemic. If the government are really serious about bringing these numbers under control and getting them down, they need to take a serious look at where the alcohol is purchased for these house parties. It's not being purchased in licensed premises and licensed premises is a much more controlled environment.

[00:02:56]

We look, we're one of the most highly regulated industries in this country, so we're well capable of following guidelines and we look after our customers. And if you're in a house party night or what are you saying?

[00:03:08]

Are you saying that people should not be able to buy alcohol in a supermarket or an off licence?

[00:03:14]

Well, if the government wants to get serious about tackling these house parties, unfortunately, that that would be one of the the the instances that they would have to look at. I know there's situation on the face of it.

[00:03:26]

No, hang on a second, Michael. If you take it on the face of it, you're saying open us up and let us charge a lot for a drink compared to what they can buy in the supermarket, because obviously you have heat, light rates, service, all of those things that are associated with running a licensed premises. So you have to charge more. I'm not arguing with that. But you're really saying open us up. We charge more and stop people buying in the supermarkets so they can drink for less?

[00:03:53]

I mean, is that it in a nutshell?

[00:03:55]

Well, partly, I suppose if they want to tackle these house parties and look predominantly the house parties are happening all over the country, probably in a younger cohort, but there's nothing stopping them in a supermarket at the moment, going in and buying a trolley load of drink. If you come into my pub, there is no way that I'm going to sue a trolley lord or drink. And after a certain time, I will get you a taxi. I will make sure that you get home safely, like you will not consume the same amount of alcohol in my licensed premises or any licensed premises.

[00:04:24]

It isn't practical now. Now, I know that when they have special offers in any commodity in the supermarket, they often say limited to three per person. I mean, would that kind of thing where, you know, you can buy a slab but you can't buy two slabs?

[00:04:40]

No, it means that three fellows in a row walk in and each buys a slab. But it makes it a little more difficult, a bit more challenging.

[00:04:48]

It does. But we are still talking about a slab that's 24 drinks in a slab. If you come into my premises, I've been in the pub industry all my life. I'm a third generation publican. I have never seen a person drinking 24 drinks in my establishment. So, like, it's much more controlled, it's more tolerant.

[00:05:08]

And let's let's let's be reasonable about this. Who says the slab is going to be consumed at one session? I mean, I have not been I confessed this into a supermarket very much, but perhaps a couple of times and then a local smaller supermarket since the lockdown. Right. Because we can get deliveries. Thank goodness for that. But the point is. If I did have to go in to buy a slab of beer or a case of wine, it's not that I might want to scollard tonight.

[00:05:36]

I might want to say I will make one trip to the supermarket to get me enough booze for the next three or four weeks so I don't have to put myself at risk again.

[00:05:45]

So, yes, you know, but just because a fella's pull in a slab doesn't mean. As for tonight.

[00:05:50]

Yes. But many of the younger people that are that are already these house parties and we know this from around the country, they are having large groups in the houses and it is an organized party that's taking place. So what we're saying is if if the government wants to really get serious about tackling the House party issue, this would be one of the the proposals that they would have to really consider to tackle those House parties, unfortunately. Yes, look, I.

[00:06:18]

I like a glass of wine myself. I like going to the supermarket and and buying a bottle of wine, but for the greater good for two or three weeks, whatever it would take. This might be one of the requirements that's needed to get this virus under control and get our numbers down.

[00:06:33]

So you're saying you want a prohibition on supermarkets selling booze, petrol stations and so on and all off licences, be they individuals or chains shut down because that's all they sell? Is alcohol in an off licence?

[00:06:49]

Yes. Well, look, if the government are serious, as I've said, and if they want to get the numbers down, then they would seriously have to look at this and also, I suppose, empowering the Garda and and look where we're being told that the Gardy will get will get new powers in the coming days. We hope so. It would be just one facet of us to try and control the situation at present.

[00:07:14]

Some of the comments that are coming in, the kids will go to drink elsewhere, that this is just being petty.

[00:07:20]

The one thing I haven't heard is locking down Dublin, Dublin have the majority of cases, but I feel the government is happy to talk the smaller counties.

[00:07:27]

But no one would dare look at the elephant in the room. It's almost like they locked down the country rather than take a tactical look at Dublin. That's from Matt and another one. Two wrongs don't make a right. The new laws are to tackle the house parties. Keeping the pubs shut will keep people away from each other, same ways they would be associating with each other at house parties.

[00:07:51]

And no liberal democratic government should have the right to tell people who they can have in their homes. That's up to the adults concerned. If you're vulnerable or have vulnerable people at home, don't go to the pub or to a house party. This is not the Black Death and has become a hysteria. Let's just close the pubs and off licences for a couple of months. If we're serious about stopping this behaviour, are we unwilling to admit that we all can't do without a drink?

[00:08:16]

Lots of pubs have an off licence attached. Are these going to close? That'd be the question. Michael, you open up the pubs. Would they be selling people booze to take home?

[00:08:27]

Look at the vast majority of pubs only sell drink for uncrate. They they don't really sell drink to take away to for people to take home to consume. So I would I would say, no, they won't be doing that. It'll just be for consumption on the premises. And if the government want to look, we've seen from the there about three weeks ago a letter to the cabinet, they gave us a gist of the guidelines that will be in place for when pubs finally do open.

[00:08:57]

Look, all we're asking them is to please give us a chance to reopen and follow those guidelines. The guard, as we know, we've got extra powers in the coming days. So we will have a, I suppose, a protocol in place. So we will be able to follow the guidelines. And we know that guard will be inspecting. And all we want to do is be given a chance to prove that we can follow up and to get our livelihoods back up and running.

[00:09:21]

But but failing that, you want the off licences and supermarkets to stop selling alcohol, but you have to think it through. Michael Madness says a listener at watched the smuggling from across the border. Traffic jams in Newry will be epic, and I'm sure that is the case. You know that people would go elsewhere. Also, Parchin might make a comeback, you know, people doing their own thing.

[00:09:46]

So you have to beware of the law of unintended consequences if you close down off licences for three months or whatever, and the pubs and the restaurants that sell food as well as drink, close them all down. You're going to get some unintended consequences, two of which I've mentioned.

[00:10:03]

Yeah, I suppose the part that that is a I suppose the cross-border one would be one for Gardy again.

[00:10:09]

I suppose so. You want to bring back the border policing customs on the border?

[00:10:13]

Gamak Well, I don't know about policing customs on the border, but look, I suppose it would be, as I said, if the government want to get serious about tackling the numbers, as they have said, it's a numbers game, then this is just one facet of of looking at. As I said, the guard with the extra powers, hopefully this will have an impact on the host parties in the coming weeks. OK, but look, I suppose all we're looking for is to be given a fair chance to implement the guidelines and get our jobs back open so that we can start trading again.

[00:10:48]

OK, well, we will watch that space. So you don't expect good news today. The final thing I should ask you, Michael, is Leo Varadkar is supposed to bring to cabinet some measures to help publicans who are in dire straits, you know, to have no income and maybe not qualify for covid payments and all the rest people are in a bad shape. What sort of package do you want from me of Ratke?

[00:11:08]

Well, look, I suppose today is D-Day for a lot of Republicans around the country. And look, I suppose the last number of months, yes, a lot of Republicans have received the call for payment, but that's really for their own family home to keep us surviving. Most Republicans have been paying utility bills and their insurance. A lot of them have 24 hour, you know, monitored security systems in place. So a lot of Republicans have been eating into their personal savings for the last five and a half months.

[00:11:38]

The TESHA are the tiniest, I should say, set when we weren't allowed open on the tenth of August, that he would hope to bring a sports package if we weren't allowed open on the 31st of August. It's now looking clear that we're not going to open next Monday. So we need to Tommasino to bring this package and it has to be a means of support. Piecemeal supports won't suffice. It won't work, I suppose, make it meaningful for a lot of pubs to survive the winter months.

[00:12:05]

We need good support today, meaningful supports to be given after the cabinet meeting today.

[00:12:11]

All right. Thank you very much for joining us. That's Michael O'Donovan, owner of the Castle in and Cork City, chairperson of the Federation of Ireland. I've been in a pub for years, and I cannot go there if they open this from Peter in Waterford at two pubs near me, blatantly breaking the rules, one is selling a pint and a sandwich for a tenner, which effectively is the pint for a euro or other pub had to close their bar because zero social distancing and no food being served.

[00:12:40]

But someone else says South Africa banned the sale of alcohol. Why can't we do the same? The pubs are bringing in pizzas so they can sell drink and there are house parties all over the country with no policing. It's just crazy. Either open everything or close everything.

[00:12:55]

With yesterday's confirmation by Dr Ronald Glenn that the current lockdown restrictions in Kildare will remain in place until at least September the 7th, many people across that county have reacted angrily to the news, asking why Killdeer continues to be singled out, given the vast improvement in the situation there. So, as the people of Kildare head into their fourth weekend of this lockdown, are they starting to reach breaking point?

[00:13:18]

Well, joining me on the line is chief executive of County Kildare Chamber of Commerce, Alan Shine.

[00:13:22]

Alan, good morning. Good morning, class.

[00:13:25]

What's the mood in Kildare because clearly there was logic in terms of the outbreaks at the beginning for the lockdown, even though I did think it was a bit peculiar because county boundaries don't tell you everything about the situation.

[00:13:41]

Yeah, I think we've come to the acceptance of the lockdown potentially was the rationale behind it, was there to be seen? The evidence was there, but we were really encouraged with the low numbers over the past few days. And there we were hopeful that the restrictions could be lifted by cabinet this afternoon. But that's not going to happen. And we have to look forward, unfortunately, to another week of the restrictions that we currently have. Many businesses are very compliant.

[00:14:09]

You know, this jobs have been lost on a daily basis on jobs we estimate were lost in the first two weeks of the initial restrictions and over 2000 in the two weeks that we.

[00:14:20]

Can you explain to me how this happens? Because, I mean, we talked during the week about Kildare Village, you know, and people saying, well, if I popped in to Kildare Village on my way back to Dublin or out of whatever and did shopping, would I be stuck in Kildare for 14 days? You know, there were being a bit jokes about it.

[00:14:38]

And clearly, Kildare Village is a place that does draw people from outside County Kildare and indeed, legally, I say principally from the capital.

[00:14:47]

Many people go so there are suffering, but a lot of businesses in Kildare would actually be doing business with Caldara people. So how are they?

[00:14:56]

Are they're suffering because since last Friday it is virtually rained constantly in Killdeer. So we can't serve the coffee shops and the bar, the pubs, the cancer food to 15 people outside. They're struggling very much. So to do that and you're only looking after your own locality. We can't. Yeah, yeah.

[00:15:14]

But you see the weather, if you were open, the weather would still have had that effect, would it not?

[00:15:21]

It would have had that effect. But what we're finding on the ground, though, is that businesses are a breaking point. Cashflow is a major issue with businesses and with our members, the creditors, they need payment. And the main issue is the way subsidy scheme that changes next week. So the government are reducing that by 42 per cent. And what makes it worse then? And half of that part is that the first payment this is across the country won't happen until the end of October.

[00:15:45]

So cash flow is the huge issue and it is a bigger issue, obviously, in there because businesses haven't been able to trade to the level that they typically would. So it's a major concern.

[00:15:56]

But we're hoping that we are hoping you can come out of it.

[00:16:00]

Yeah, talk to me about the numbers. You say that the numbers are much improved.

[00:16:05]

So compared to the seven day incidents in other counties, how does Killdeer fare?

[00:16:11]

Yeah, our numbers are coming down. We do know that where there were outbreaks in certain parts of the county that they are fully under control. Neveda are obviously very concerned and are keeping a watchful eye over us. I call that Minister Stephen Donnelly this morning on the matter and it's been reviewed on a daily basis. Caldara has been reviewed on a daily basis and they've been asked we're very hopeful that we can come out of the current restrictions that we have early next week and hopefully then the businesses can start reopening the doors and be realigned with the rest of the country.

[00:16:45]

And what's happening with the rest of the country? Is there really any unhappiness?

[00:16:49]

Yeah, one. Yeah. What what I pressed this morning and we continue to do as an organisation is we have to start the conversation now, how we live, we call it, and how we work with Colvard until a vaccine is found. We have to have that conversation because there is no appetite for businesses opening and then closing and opening and closing. And it's just it's just can't continue like this. So we have to have that conversation and we have to get the strategy from government as to how we can live and work with this virus until a vaccine is found.

[00:17:21]

Yeah, I mean, if there was, for example, an outbreak in one of the schools in Kildare next week, they wouldn't necessarily close down all the schools and go there the same way.

[00:17:32]

If there's an outbreak in a meat plant in Kildare, it doesn't mean every meat plant stops production.

[00:17:39]

So you're saying that this is a bit too much of the the blanket prohibition on our movement?

[00:17:45]

Because, you know, if you happen to live on a border, how many counties border you? Is it eight counties, border KCA counties, border seven.

[00:17:51]

Okay, so, you know, if you if you've moved into Caldara from across the border and whatever and your family still lives across the border, in theory, you're not supposed to go to see her. Down down the lane, yes, my own mother in law lives in Newcastle, which is just five miles away from me, but I can't we can't visit her. So unfortunately, in the county that we are, there's a lot of towns and villages that are basically Cottan to one part is in Kildare and one part is in another county.

[00:18:21]

So the confusion is out there as well.

[00:18:23]

So tell us what happens in those towns and villages.

[00:18:27]

I mean, if people just ignored the rule because it's so ridiculous in those particular situations and they just carry on, does the acceptance that they're ignoring the rules when it comes to schools and bringing their children to schools?

[00:18:41]

This week? Obviously, we have towns like Lecoq, which is basically half as nearly in need and half as income. There are not as likely slippages. They will consider themselves. Many people consider themselves to be on the computer, but obviously, perhaps more.

[00:18:55]

But don't forget, there is no there is no prohibition on people leaving Killdeer to go to work. No. If they have to go to work, I mean, some people work at home, that's fine. But if you have to work outside the home, you can leave Kildare and go to your place of employment.

[00:19:09]

For essential work that the devices for essential work that you are allowed outside of the county, but our hotels are tourist destinations and so far it can't attract people in obviously from outside of there. So their numbers on their cash flow is the critical issue, apart from a business perspective.

[00:19:28]

Dwindling. You know, we're very hopeful. We're hopeful that we're hopeful that potentially what we're looking for is already next week, but the numbers remain as they are. We are suppressing the virus is as good as we can as a population. And clear, we feel that we put our shoulders to the wheel. We're doing as much as we can. The numbers are showing that that hopefully early next week that the restrictions will be lifted.

[00:19:51]

Alan Shane, chief executive of the Chamber of Commerce, thank you very much for joining us.