‘Fantastic buzz’ in Dublin city as restrictions end

People eager to attend pubs, restaurants, cinemas and cafes again, with some queuing for 20 minutes

There has been “a fantastic buzz” in Dublin city over the weekend after the Taoiseach’s address to the nation, announcing that almost all Covid-19 restrictions would end.

Paul Cadden, owner of the Saba restaurant group, said there was "great excitement among staff and customers on Friday when the news broke."

“People were wondering, is this really true? Everybody is just delighted to be back out, a lot of people were feeling like they weren’t allowed to be before,” he said.

Saba restaurants were trading throughout the restrictions and the 8pm closing time, but it had been quiet.

“Online bookings and the phone are a lot busier now with people booking for groups and parties. It gives us all great hope in the industry,” Mr Cadden said.

Enda Keogh, owner of Peter's pub, said Saturday night was "very busy".

“We’ve been lucky in that we were busy when we were open with the early closing time thanks to regulars but the huge thing for us now is not having to do the contact tracing and all the admin,” he said.

“I’ve been here since I was a child, it’s a family business, and it was just soul destroying sending customers home at eight in the evening, so it’s great to go back to normal trading hours now.”

In Smithfield at 3pm in the afternoon, three cafes had a wait time of more than twenty minutes to get a seat.

One staff member said it had been “the busiest Sunday in a while,” and a woman having coffee with two friends said they had been “out the night before at a nightclub in town” and the group were “having a celebratory hangover lunch”.

The Lighthouse cinema in Smithfield and the Irish Film Institute in Temple Bar were both "really busy" on Sunday with the extended opening hours.

Ian Redmond of Tramline nightclub did not open like some other clubs on Saturday night, as breweries weren't able to deliver on time with the short notice.

"The orders went in on Friday and we're getting deliveries tomorrow. We sold out 900 tickets in three hours for Monday night. It feels like Garth Brooks is coming to town or something," he said.

Clubs are unable to get their special exemptions for late night trading until the District Court resumes next week, but Mr Redmond had the idea to do a belated New Year’s Eve countdown celebration for those customers who may never have experienced that before.

“Why wait another eleven and a half months to celebrate the New Year? We’ve ordered balloons and champagne and everything. It’s great, it’s really exciting,” he said.