Restaurants dissapointed as latest guidelines retain trading hours restrictions

Fáilte Ireland documents give further detail on Covid-19 health advice across sectors

The restaurant industry has said it is disappointed an increase in booking numbers or trading hours was not included in updated guidelines issued by Fáilte Ireland on Tuesday.

Although the Government has set out relaxed restrictions around indoor events generally and particularly live music, the dining sector has complained it is left in the same situation with little improvement to its trading conditions.

"We are being treated differently again," said Adrian Cummins of the Restaurant Association of Ireland (RAI), who also complained the sector had not been consulted on the latest round of Covid-19 operational guidelines.

Although the Fáilte Ireland documents relate to a number of sectors, mainly fleshing out what changes became clear last week, restaurants had been holding out hope for some improvement as the summer season winds to a close.

The document outlines that music performance and entertainment is now allowed, but on a seated basis only.

It recommends against dancing or “intermingling between tables” and while multiple tables can be booked outdoors, they cannot inside.

“For the non-music event business, there is nothing new in this,” Mr Cummins said. The Department of Media, Tourism, Arts and Culture, most associated with restaurant restrictions, could not be immediately reached for comment in relation to the RAI position.

The Fáilte Ireland outline also notes that a maximum of six adults and up to nine minors can be seated at a table and that “physical distancing” of two metres between tables be continued.

Updated advice across sectors also refers to the need to reduce noise levels in the interest of limiting virus transmission as a consequence of speaking loudly, shouting and singing.

“Given the strong evidence from the WHO (World Health Organisation) and other public health bodies, noise levels should be maintained at levels where it is not necessary to speak loudly or shout. Consideration should also be given to the HPSC’s guidance on musical performance,” say the Fáilte Ireland documents.

Since Monday, a raft of new changes put vaccination or immunity status to the fore.

For indoors venues such as cinemas and theatres, capacity is capped at 60 per cent where all audience members show proof of immunity. Where there is a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated customers, auditoriums must continue to adhere to a 50-person limit.

That guidance is the same for other organised indoor events and “mass gatherings”, such as conferences, trade fairs, exhibitions and bingo sessions.