Restaurants impatient to reopen indoors but beware of blame game if there is surge

Hotels will be allowed serve meals indoors from June 2nd, but gastropubs and restaurants must wait

The Government is likely to resist calls from restaurateurs to cede ground on allowing earlier indoor dining, at least until the vaccine rollout is well advanced. Photograph: iStock

The Government is likely to resist calls from restaurateurs to cede ground on allowing earlier indoor dining, at least until the vaccine rollout is well advanced. Photograph: iStock

Your Web Browser may be out of date. If you are using Internet Explorer 9, 10 or 11 our Audio player will not work properly.
For a better experience use Google Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft Edge.

 

In the midst of the generally warm welcome from economic groups on Thursday to the Government’s modestly accelerated reopening plan, there was anger from restaurateurs who claim the hospitality sector has been “divided” by the reopening timetable.

Hotels will be allowed to reopen from June 2nd with indoor dining for residents, according to the plan, while the rest of the hospitality sector will be limited to outdoor custom only from June 7th. There was no timetable outlined for the return of indoor dining outside of the hotel sector.

The Restaurants Association of Ireland called on Ministers to treat all outlets the same, and allow restaurants, gastropubs and hotels to reopen under similar conditions.

It is easy to understand the impatience of restaurateurs who want to be allowed facilitate guests indoors as soon as possible. The Government’s mantra to date has been to expect an “outdoors summer”. But, of course, such an approach further divides the hospitality sector as it is a lottery for businesses as to whether or not they are able to facilitate trade outdoors.

Some have car parks or gardens, others have not. Some have space outside on the street for fresh air dining, others have no such space at all.

It is a good thing that the Government, under pressure from the hospitality sector, is set to abolish the spurious distinction in the anti-virus restrictions between gastropubs and so-called “wet pubs” that do not serve food. It was always a silly rule that seemed grounded more in conservative thinking than public health principles.

The Government is likely, however, to resist calls from restaurateurs to cede ground on allowing earlier indoor dining, at least until the vaccine rollout is well advanced.

Restaurateurs should also be wary of pushing too hard on this. If reopening for indoor dining is speeded up, and if a surge, for whatever reason, happens to coincide with this, they will inevitably get the blame in the public sphere.

Restaurants and pub lobbyists took an outsized share of public opprobrium for the Christmas surge, which was probably down to complex interplay between a wider range of factors. With the vaccines rolled out, they might be better advised lobbying for more supports and waiting until it is absolutely safe for indoor trade to resume.

Business Today

Get the latest business news and commentarySIGN UP HERE
The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.