Over 3,500 wet pubs across the country have been closed for months, but the Private Members’ Bar has reopened
Although the public do not drink alcohol, TDs, senators and former members of the Oireachtas can drink. The Dail private members’ bar at Leinster House has reopened in recent weeks, despite all the pubs serving alcohol in the country being closed due to Covid – 19.
Wet pubs in the country have been closed for the past few months on the grounds that pubs play a major role in the spread of Covid.
More than 3,500 pubs have been closed in the past six months. The government had recently announced that these would reopen on September 21.
Only TDs, senators, and former members of Oireachtas can access the private bar. Meanwhile, the bar for the staff at Leinster House and the people who live there are closed as they cannot serve substantial meals.
A spokeswoman for the Houses of the Oireachtas said: “The Members’ Bar reopened on July 6, 2020 while the Visitors’ Bar remains closed as it does not have a substantial/ hot meal offering other than soup/sandwiches.”
The opening of private bar has recently caused some tension inside Leinster House. A TD had commented that such a move would not be good at a time when thousands of pubs in the country are closed.
Other TDs who entered the private bar in recent days said that the private members’ bar operates in accordance with the COVID-19 guidelines. Members are asked to wash their hands and sign in with their details for contact tracing. They will also be shown a table to order food and drinks.
Meanwhile, a deputy said he had never seen people drinking alcohol inside the private bar.
Donall O’Keeffe, chief executive of the Licensed Vintners Association, said: “So long as the Dáil bar is following the same guidelines as the other pubs, there is no issue with it being open.
He said the private bar has the capacity to provide substantial food and reopen, but other pubs in the country have been closed for six months as they do not have such a situation.
The bar is open on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays between 12.30pm and 4pm. People will be able to place final orders at 3pm.
On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, traditionally the busiest times, the dial is open from 12.30pm to 3pm. It will be cleaned and sanitized before closing for an hour. It reopens between 5pm and 8pm, with final orders at 7.30pm.