The Licensed Vintners Association has claimed that the Government do not trust publicans, pub staff or pub customers.
The Government is finalising plans for the country to exit the Level 5 restrictions and under the three-phase plan, the hospitality sector is expected to re-open under strict guidelines in the second - but wet pubs are likely to remain closed.
“Pubs will not be able to use the empty pizza box or the chipper next door as a means of staying open,” one minister told the Irish Examiner on Tuesday.
The LVA said that “such measures have nothing to do with public safety and amount to a political decision being taken by the Government”.
Donall O’Keeffe, Chief Executive of the LVA, called for evidence that wet pubs pose a greater risk than pubs that serve food.
“Where is the evidence that people are more likely to catch Covid-19 if they don’t have a €9 meal? Where is the evidence that people are less likely to be infected if the meal they have was prepared in a dedicated kitchen rather than coming from a nearby pizzeria?
“There is no data to support these measures, this is a political decision with the Government showing they are happy to destroy the pubs of this country.
“The Government’s own guidelines have the same social distancing measures and time limits in place for ‘wet’ pubs, food pubs and restaurants.
“Yet they are pursuing policies which will only keep the ‘wet’ pubs closed and ensure that more venues are classified as ‘wet’ pubs. If all these different types of venue have to have the same social distancing, time limits and implement table service only how is one more dangerous than the other?”
Mr O’Keeffe added: “This is the Government formally saying they don’t trust the publicans of this country to follow the guidelines, they don’t trust pub staff to implement them and they don’t trust pub customers to behave themselves.
“The Government is pushing a message of ‘individual responsibility’ but when it comes to pubs and pub customers it seems they are quite happy to deny us such rights and freedoms.”