It is still unclear when all pubs locally will be able to open. At present if you don't have a beer garden and can't/don't serve food, you can't open for business.

Newry and Armagh MLA Justin McNulty MLA has said publicans across Newry are frustrated at the lack of clarity on when they can open to the public and have warned the future viability of some pubs will be in question.

Mr McNulty explained, ‘Having been contacted by a number of publicans from across Newry and Armagh seeking direction and indeed clarity on when they can open, I am afraid after the Minister for the Economy Diane Dodds MLA responded to my question to her, we are no further forward.’

‘Pubs who serve food or who have a beer garden can now open and serve alcohol.  However, a normal pub, which doesn’t have a beer garden and doesn’t serve food, must remain shut. Publicans see pubs in England and Wales open, in the South they have been given a date for reopening, but here, they have been abandoned.’

McGuigan's Bar in Monaghan Street, is one such pub stuck in limbo, and despite them preparing and painting they still don't have a date on which they can open.

Mr McNulty continued ‘In many communities, particularly in rural areas the pub is a community hub and it is a meeting place.  It doesn’t stack up financially to provide food but the longer they remain shut, the future financial viability of the local pub is being brought into question.  Publicans are crying out for direction and they are scrambling for their very existence.’

‘In her response, the Minister has set out what has been done to open up many areas of the hospitality industry, but has also advised no date has yet been set by the Executive which would see pubs open.  I would appeal for this issue to be addressed as a priority, the industry needs direction and it needs it now.’

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