Hospitality groups welcome return of indoor dining as ‘giant leap forward’

Law expected before July 26th to cater for the fully vaccinated and recently recovered

Outdoor dining in Dublin city centre. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Outdoor dining in Dublin city centre. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Industry groups representing restaurants and pubs have welcomed the Government’s plan to allow indoor dining to resume in the coming weeks as a “giant leap forward” for the hospitality sector.

Padraig Cribben, chief executive of the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland, which represents pubs outside Dublin, said it was “crucial” the legislation was passed in time to allow pubs to reopen before July 23rd.

Mr Cribben said the industry had been through “16 months of never-ending setbacks” and now “every summer weekend is vital for our members”.

“While there remain valid concerns about the implementation of this legislation, the alternative presented by the Government of remaining closed until at least September was never a viable option,” he said.

Adrian Cummins, chief executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, described the plan to resume indoor dining as “another milestone” in the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Cummins said the move was a “giant leap forward” towards the reopening of the hospitality business in a safe, viable and sustainable way.

“While we don’t live in a perfect pre-Covid world, the announcement will give confidence to a sector [that] we are moving forward in a direction that will give the opportunity to 20,000 hospitality businesses to reopen doors,” he said.

The decision would mean the sector was closer to seeing the return of 180,000 people to work, he said.

“It is vital we protect our staff and customers by following public health advice and abide by the guidelines,” he said.

List of measures

In a statement, the Government confirmed it would ease restrictions on indoor services in restaurants and pubs for people who are vaccinated, have recovered from Covid-19 in the past six months and those under 18, if accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Under the plan:

– Those who are vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 in the past six months will have to show proof of this to access indoor hospitality;

– The Government’s new Digital Covid Certificates, which Ireland and other EU countries are implementing, can be used by members of the public as evidence of being fully vaccinated, or other medical documentation, which will be set out in guidelines;

– For visitors to Ireland from outside the EU, including the US, Britain and Northern Ireland, a nationally certified equivalent can be used for the purposes of verifying vaccination or immunity status;

– There is to be a time limit of one hour and 45 minutes on customers being inside restaurants and pubs;

– All pubs, restaurants, cafes and hotels providing indoor services will be required to adhere to Government and Fáilte Ireland’s safety standards, including social distancing measures.

Legislation to give effect to the plan may come before the Dáil as early as Tuesday. It is anticipated the law will come into force some day next week but no later than Monday, July 26th.

In a statement, the Government said the guidelines would place an emphasis on indoor settings having effective ventilation, and the use of carbon dioxide monitors.