Paedar O'Donnell's and Tinney's Bar are preparing to reopen
Pub owners in Derry who only sell alcohol on their premises are growing increasingly frustrated with the current government guidelines for reopening.
Bars and restaurants were given the go-ahead to reopen ahead of schedule on July 3 but many small pubs that do not serve food have remained closed.
Owners are eager for a date when they will be granted permission to serve customers indoors.
Tinney’s owner, Patrick Durkan said: “Sadly, despite our best efforts, official constraints coupled with the gross myopia of our Stormont decision makers, have frustrated our plans to open and serve our patrons.
“It is totally illogical and unwarranted for pubs to be marginalised within the Hospitality Sector. Pubs are a social imperative for many in our community.
“We will open as soon as circumstances realistically permit. Soon I hope.”
Guidance published by The Executive Office says restaurants, coffee shops and cafes could provisionally reopen from July 3, with indoor bars and pubs allowed to serve food and alcohol on a table service basis.
Pubs and bars with outdoor spaces would be permitted to operate an outdoors table service selling alcohol.
Last month bar owners in the city spoke to the Derry News about the need for government clarity.
William McGuinness, who owns Paedar O’Donnells, the Gweedore and Fifty-Seven with business partner Phil Nolan, said his businesses were hit ‘awfully hard’ during the pandemic.
He also stressed that with limited indoor space it would not be profitable for him to open under the current guidelines.
Mr McGuinness was of the view that bars selling alcohol pose less of a contamination risk than those selling food and therefore should not be disadvantaged.
Speaking to the Derry News this week he said the bar is unable to serve in the pedestrianised area outside it premises on Waterloo Street until it is licensed to do so.
His only option is to wait until the local council grants permission, he said.
A spokesperson for Derry City and Strabane District Council said that it is currently accepting applications for pavement café licences that will permit the use of outdoor space.
It will assist businesses, such as bars, cafes and restaurants to reopen safely, while maintaining social distancing.
As of midday yesterday the local council has received eight applications.
There is a statutory 28-day consultation period, running from the date that the application is made.
The local authority aims to issue licences within five weeks of receipt of a valid application.
A council spokesperson did however say that given the current circumstances it will not enforce the regulations during the consultation period subject to no representations being received from the Department for Infrastructure or the PSNI.
Council agreed at a recent meeting that the normal fees will be waived to support businesses at this challenging time.
Licences will be issued for an initial period of 6 months.
The spokesperson added that teams have met with Government departments and key stakeholders to proactively bring forward a number of positive initiatives aimed at assisting with the ‘safe recovery and reopening’ of the city centre.
The stakeholders have looked at new creative and innovative ways at providing more space and a safe environment that will enhance the city centre visitor experience.
The Council is also working to resolve challenges that may exist around street trading and licensing and in keeping with Government guidelines and health advice.
Any changes will have to be agreed by the relevant Government departments and key stakeholders and in consultation with businesses.
Guidance on making an application for a pavement café licence is available on the council website via the following link - https://www.derrystrabane.com/Licensing/Pavement-cafe-licences
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