Restaurants can continue with takeaway service for rest of year – Darragh O’Brien

Council fees for using street furniture outside hotels, restaurants and pubs also waived

Restaurants  allowed provide takeaway service for the remainder of the year. Photograph: iStock

Restaurants allowed provide takeaway service for the remainder of the year. Photograph: iStock

 

Restaurants will be allowed provide takeaway service for the remainder of the year under plans advanced by Minister for Local Government Darragh O’Brien to boost the sector as lockdown restrictions ease.

Local authority fees for using street furniture outside hotels, restaurants and pubs will also be waived for the same period, the Minster told an Oireachtas committee. He also wants to scrap the requirement for planning permission to erect awnings and other coverings over outdoor tables and chairs.

“Like many other sectors, the hospitality and restaurant sector and the wider tourism sector has suffered the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic both last year and this year,” Mr O’Brien told a meeting in the Dáil chamber of the joint Oireachtas committee on housing, local government and heritage.

“We want them to have a summer where they can make up for lost ground.”

The meeting heard complaints from committee members about people leaving waste on the street after socialising outdoors.

Victor Boyhan, an independent senator, said he observed empty bottles and “human faeces” on the streets of Dún Laoghaire on Sunday morning.

“We have ultimately to make the traders, the owners of these businesses, responsible... They also have to be involved in the cleaning up of this mess.”

Examine

The Minister said local authorities should examine their cleaning schedules and provision of temporary bins as the summer looms and bank holiday weekends in May and June approach.

He has laid regulations before the Dáil and Seanad to prolong takeaway service and waive furniture fees as the prospect opens up of a return to outdoor dining.

“There is, at last, some light at the end of the tunnel in relation to the reopening of activities and the wider economy further to the roll-out of the HSE vaccination programme.”

Government members of the committee voted down a series of Opposition amendments to the Affordable Housing Bill, including a proposal to remove the shared equity loan scheme from it.

Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin said bodies including the Economic & Social Research Institute and the Central Bank had expressed significant concern about the scheme and added that the former secretary general of the Department of Public Expenditure, Robert Watt, had criticised it.

“They are all saying the same thing. They are all saying this is a demand side scheme that will push up house prices at a time of limited supply,” he said.