Ireland reopening: Pubs booked out and 25,000 staff back at work

First day back since pandemic began for many traditional pubs as meal rule scrapped

As 4,000 pubs nationwide reopen for outdoor service, Irish Times reporter Ronan McGreevy visits O’Donoghue’s Pub in Merrion Row, Dublin. Video: Ronan McGreevy


Ireland has taken another stride back to normality as pubs, restaurants and leisure facilities reopened on Monday.

Hospitality venues can serve food and drinks outdoors, while gyms, swimming pools and leisure centres are now allowed to facilitate individual training.

Beer gardens and outdoor eating areas at cafes and restaurants are set for a bumper bank holiday Monday as people spend their day off enjoying the latest relaxation of the country’s Covid-19 rules.

Around 4,000 pubs are reopening for outdoor service, with an estimated 25,000 bar staff returning to work.

For traditional pubs in Dublin, it will be the first time they have reopened since the start of the pandemic.

Cinemas and theatres can also reopen, while outdoor amusement and theme parks will also reopen to the public.

‘Blessing in disguise’

Members were back working out at 3G Fitness gym in Athy, Co Kildare, on Monday morning.

Darren O’Brien, from the gym, said membership numbers had surged by 10 to 15 per cent every time a Covid-19 lockdown ended.

“There’s been a huge uptake,” he said.

“Now everybody can get around and do stuff and get out of the house, they want to get into the gym.”

Mr O’Brien said the pandemic had brought a “small blessing in disguise” in that it had made people concentrate more on their physical health.

“What has happened has actually made people think about their health and fitness, which benefits us in the long run,” he said.

He said his focus was now on rebuilding the business.

“It’s been tough to say the least,” he said.

“We have overheads every month going out. Money was going out but not much money was coming in.

“For us it was survival to get to this point and now it’s about rebuilding again.”


In terms of domestic gatherings, an unvaccinated household can now have visitors from one other unvaccinated household inside their home.

The number of people allowed to attended a wedding has increased to 25, while outdoor sports matches can also resume.

The maximum number of people allowed to attend an organised outside event now stands 100.

A number of pilot events with larger crowds will also take place in the coming weeks, with one of the first events taking place on Thursday.

The first concert in Ireland since the pandemic will be at Iveagh Gardens, where up to 500 people will be allowed to attend.

Monday’s lifting of restrictions will see more than 50 per cent of Ireland’s pubs reopen for outdoor service. Indoor hospitality is set to return in July.

Publicans have reported strong bookings for the first day back, with many pubs fully booked out a week in advance of the bank holiday.

Some pubs have reserved tables for “walks-ins” to cater for customers on the day.

Padraig Cribben, Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) chief executive, said: “There is a strong sense of anticipation among publicans to get open and get back to what they do best.

“The message from publicans to old regulars and new customers alike is ‘we’ve missed you and welcome back’.”

Mr Cribben added: “To get pubs back open will be a great sign the country is returning to normal.”