Publicans set to oppose time limits for bars and restaurants after reopening

New guidelines on resumption of hospitality delayed to give sector ‘clear understanding’

There will be a distance of one metre between tables, and a limit of six people per booking. Photograph: iStock

There will be a distance of one metre between tables, and a limit of six people per booking. Photograph: iStock

 

Publicans have called for a review of new hospitality guidelines which are expected to put a 105-minute time limit on indoor visits to pubs and restaurants once they reopen this summer.

It had been expected the guidelines, which are being drafted by Fáilte Ireland, would be released yesterday but that was delayed after it emerged the Government had yet to approve them.

Asked about the delay, a Government source said it was important to “get it right” to ensure the hospitality sector “has a clear understanding” on what is being expected from it when the document is published.

It is understood it is still proposed that there will be a 105-minute limit on indoor dining if there is only one metre between tables as well as a limit of six people per booking. For outdoor dining, a distance of one metre will also apply, and it will be up to each establishment to decide if they want to set a time limit and if so how long this should be for.

Donall O’Keeffe, chief executive of the Licensed Vintners Association, said he was surprised to see the inclusion of a time limit for indoor dining.

“We welcome the publication of the outdoor guidelines which have been urgently needed by pubs and the rest of the hospitality sector as we get ready to resume outdoor service, having being mothballed for most of the last 15 months.

“While many pubs and hospitality venues won’t be in a position to provide outdoor service, it is a welcome start and we are looking forward to seeing activity of this nature begin from the 7th June,” he said.

“However, we were surprised and somewhat disappointed to see the time limit in the guideline measures advanced for indoor service. Indoor will be key to the recovery of hospitality and that needs to be facilitated by the 1st July at the latest as every day matters when you have been closed for 435 consecutive days.

“Given that indoor reopening is five weeks away and that as many as another 1.5 million vaccines may have been administered over that period, we will be pressing to have these guidelines reviewed and further sense checked from a pragmatic perspective in advance of pubs and restaurants reopening for indoor service.”

The chief executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland Adrian Cummins said the hospitality sector was looking forward to returning, but he repeated a call for all restaurants to be allowed to serve food indoors from June 2nd, the same date on which hotels will be allowed to do so.

“We would like to open in line with hotels because there is no difference between a hotel restaurant and an independent restaurant next door to them,” he told Newstalk.

“The indications are that the guidelines will be, there or thereabouts, the same as last year for indoor hospitality, but the difference for outdoor hospitality will be that there will be no time limits for people,” he said.

Last year’s guidelines had worked well for the food business, they had been implemented “as best we could”, he said.

“We are looking forward to these being published so people can start to plan and prepare for reopening when we get a date to reopen restaurants, gastropubs and coffeeshops across the country.”

Mr Cummins welcomed the one-metre space between tables, saying anything bigger would leave many businesses unviable.

While the Cabinet will meet later this week to set dates for the future reopening of hospitality and international travel, a further Cabinet meeting next week on June 1st will consider the issue of financial supports for the hardest-hit sectors, including pubs.

Meanwhile the Department of Health reported 365 confirmed cases of Covid-19 yesterday. Of the new cases, 41 are in ICU and 103 in hospital.

Daily case numbers may change due to future data review, validation and update, the Department of Health has stated.

Meanwhile, a further 75 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Northern Ireland yesterday, according to the North’s Department of Health. There were no further deaths.