The coronavirus crisis continues to impact bars and restaurants around the globe. According to a survey from the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI), which was recently shared by the Spirits Business, 56 percent of pubs in Ireland have closed either temporarily or permanently due to Covid-19.

With more than half of the country’s pubs closed, the survey also found that half of adults in Ireland are worried about the negative impact the closures will have on their communities.

“This is truly devastating to see,” Rosemary Garth, chair of DIGI told the Spirits Business. “According to our research, the vast majority of people in Ireland have noticed significant change to their local community, with a particular decline in community spirits and morale.”

The survey also found that 78 percent of people in Ireland are concerned about the loss of jobs from the closures, 75 percent worry about the impact on other supporting industries, and 67 percent fear the possibility of loneliness and isolation.

“To ensure that pubs in local communities can not only reopen, but reopen with a fighting chance of recovery, the government must not delay any longer,” Garth says.

With growing fear that the closures will last until 2021, DIGI is urging the government to reduce Ireland’s high alcohol tax by 15 percent — the country currently has the second-highest overall excise tax on alcohol in the European Union (EU) and the third-highest on spirits.

“The drinks and hospitality sector needs financial support now, and, in addition, this budget should also provide an alcohol excise tax reduction,” says Garth. “Without it, pubs will reopen with the second-highest excise tax in the EU and we risk permanently losing hundreds of businesses and thousands of jobs, just as we did in the 2008 recession.”