Spare a Thought for the Publicans

Imagine being a publican at the moment.

Imagine you are in a sparsely populated rural area and there is a couple of generations of the same family working in, and trying to extract a living from, a pub. Things are tough enough to begin with, especially since the drink driving laws have tightened up in the last decade or so and a general move towards the off licence, supermarket, and drinking at home.

Or imagine you took over a pub in the northside of Dublin about twelve months ago and have invested a significant sum of money in your food offering. You have installed a new kitchen, done the place up, new furniture, gave the whole building a makeover and now you are ready to sweat the asset and extract some return on your investment and sweat equity.

And now the government decides that you cannot open again until a vaccine is found for covid-19.

That must be tough. Through no fault of your own you are told that you must stand on the sidelines and forego the opportunity to earn a living. It is for the greater good. But you have rent to pay, insurance, mortgage, business loans, food to put on the table, perhaps a home loan.

Spare a thought for these people and businesses. How would you feel if your ability to earn a living was removed from you? And you were told you could resume and pick up the pieces at some unknown, undetermined time in the future when a vaccine is found.

And you have no idea, nor have you been given any indication, of when that might happen.

I do not know whether insurance companies have any obligation, pursuant to their insurance policies, to the pub owner/operator. But I would be surprised if this was not tested vigorously because many of these pubs and restaurants will not open again if they are obliged to stay on the sidelines and leave their premises shuttered until 2021.

Spare a thought for the publicans.

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