Q&A: The reopening of restaurants, cafes and gastropubs explained

Indoor dining business resumes across State for the first time in more than two months

Wet pubs can only offer delivery or take-away services under the latest restrictions. File photograph: PA

Restaurants, cafes and gastropubs reopen for indoor dining across the State on Friday for the first time in over two months as part of the phased emergence from Level 5 restrictions for the Christmas period. Here’s everything you need to know:

Q. So, from Friday, December 4th, all restaurants and pubs are reopening?

Restaurants, cafes and pubs that serve a “substantial meal” can reopen from Friday for indoor and outdoor dining with additional restrictions in place.

Q. What about wet pubs?


Wet pubs can only offer delivery or take-away services.

Q. What are the additional restrictions for cafes, restaurants and pubs which serve food?

Customers can stay for 105 minutes with a maximum of six people per table. Anyone seated more than two metres away from the nearest table is allowed stay for longer. Multiple tables cannot be booked, and there is to be no live music.

Q. Does the €9 meal rule still apply for gastropubs?

Yes, people must spend at least €9 on a “substantial meal” that was prepared on site, inside the premises.

Q. What about outdoor dining?

The same restrictions apply – a maximum of six people per table, no multiple table bookings for the same party and a “substantial meal” that is prepared on site at gastropubs.

Q. What time will restaurants/pubs close at?

Businesses will close at 11.30pm.

Q. Why can’t wet pubs reopen?

Speaking last week, the Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “Unfortunately, none of the research made available to Government supports the reopening of so-called wet pubs at this stage.

“I know how deeply frustrating this will be for business owners in this sector. I fully accept their goodwill about respecting guidelines, but the reality is that reopening indoor hospitality carries risks and there is only so far we can safely go,” Mr Martin said.

“I want to reassure them that additional supports, over and above what is currently in place, will be made available to owners to help them into the new year and prepare for their eventual reopening.”

Q. Do I have to wear a face mask while waiting for my table?

Yes, the Government has advised face masks should be worn at all times other than when sitting at a table. Staff must wear face masks at all times.

Q. What about hotel restaurants?

Hotel restaurants can open to non-residents.

Q. What did Nphet say about reopening restaurants and pubs?

Nphet recommended the hospitality sector should be allowed to offer takeaway-only services throughout December. It said a choice should have been made between relaxing restrictions on households visits or allowing the hospitality sector to reopen.

Q. What’s happening with household visits for December?

From December 18th, you can mix with a maximum of two other households, and you can also travel outside your county. Until then you should not mix with any other households outside of those within your support bubble, and you cannot travel outside your county.

Q. Are nightclubs, discos and casinos still closed?

Yes, they remain closed.

Q. What happens to pubs and restaurants after Christmas?

The Government has said that from January 7th, measures put in place prior to December 18th (the opening of non essential retail, restaurants/gastropubs and hairdressers) will apply “subject to ongoing review of the trajectory of the virus”.

Q. Are restrictions likely to be reintroduced if cases significantly rise this month?

Speaking last weekend, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said Nphet and the Government were expecting the level of cases to rise from the second week in December, and that a rapid rise could lead to further measures being introduced in January.

He said he did not expect to introduce restrictive measures before the end of December.

“If something very, very serious happened, if we saw a huge increase in cases and we saw uncontrolled events happening all over the place, obviously Government will keep that under consideration,” he said.