From Iceland — Bar Owners Issue Urgent Plea To Allow Re-openings On May 25th

Bar Owners Issue Urgent Plea To Allow Re-openings On May 25th

Published May 13, 2020

Photo by
Art Bicnick

Pressure is mounting on officials to permit bars to reopen on May 25th. Several bar owners warn that financial realities may be force them to reopen on this date, with or without the government’s sanction, RÚV reports.

A group of owners of bars and pubs in downtown Reykjavík have written to the City of Reykjavik, the police and the civil defence department to request permission to reopen their businesses in May 25th.

Bars and pubs in Iceland have been closed since March 24th due to the coronavirus outbreak. Chief epidemiologist Þórólf­ur Guðna­son has stated that they will not reopen before May 25th, but the precise date for a change in law has not yet been released.

“Of course we do not want to break laws and regulations, but we do not see any other option in this situation”, explains Arnar Þór Gíslason in an RÚV interview. Arnar Þór runs numerous popular drinking spots including the Irishman Pub and the Lebowski Bar.

He warns it may make more financial sense to reopen despite potential fines than to remain closed. Bar owners are struggling to pay rent and wages during the pandemic.

“In our opinion, this is discrimination”, Arnar Þór adds. He claims that the current rules that permit restaurants to open and serve alcohol, but ban bars from reopening, are unfair. He points to examples of bars adding food items to their menus just to be able to re-open and even serving food from neighbouring restaurants.

Arnar Þór suggests that re-opening bars may prevent over-crowding in restaurants. He explains that many people are currently going to restaurants to get drinks and that “it would be much better to have the bars open to disperse the crowds”.

Update: Since this article was published the Chief Epidemiologist announced that he intends to allow bars to reopen on May 25th.

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