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A 'significant meal' may be required in a pub once they reopen - but why €9?

Pubs that can serve food are allowed reopen from 29 June.

AS SOME PUBS prepare to reopen on 29 June, Fáilte Ireland has said pubs will be expected to serve “substantial meals” that cost at least €9.

This €9 requirement is likely to only be in place for three weeks until 20 July, when pubs that don’t serve food are allowed reopen. 

But it doesn’t mean 10 packets of peanuts with a pint on 29 June, as many have joked online since the requirement was announced last night by Fáilte Ireland. 

Fáilte Ireland have made it clear, citing 1962′s Intoxicating Liquor, that a “substantial” plate of food is one which you’d expect to be served as a main midday or evening meal. 

Or as a main course at either time, according to Section 9 of the Act. 

Yet where did the minimum €9 figure come from? 

Well, as set out in the original Act, if a pub doesn’t normally serve food, it’s “reasonable” to charge a sum of at least “five shillings”. 

20200617_105311 Section 9, Intoxicating Liquor Act 1962

It might sound outdated to rely on an Act drawn up when old currency was in use in Ireland. 

In 2003, however, then-Minister for Justice Michael McDowell updated the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1962 through a Statutory Instrument.

According to a spokesperson for Fáilte Ireland, five shillings in 1962 was the equivalent of approximately £2 in 1973 and that this equates to €9 in 2020. 

Earlier this month, Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan indicated that peanuts and crisps should not be the only food publicans serve to customers in order to reopen on 29 June, as the country works to maintain social distancing to limit the spread of Covid-19. 

Speaking at a Covid-19 briefing at the Department of Health, Holohan said: “A few people getting together for a few pints and a packet of peanuts doesn’t constitute a restaurant.”

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland today, CEO of Vintner’s Federation of Ireland Padraig Cribben said with the €9 requirement set to come into effect it is now up to individual operators to see if they can – or want to – operate within these guidelines. 

“There are many who will say ‘Look the 20th July is only three weeks away so I’m going to wait and see,” said Cribben. 

Cribben added that some pubs that serve food are unsure if they will even open on 29 June due to “significant challenges” regarding social distancing on their premises. 

It emerged today that pubs and restaurants may be allowed to reduce the two metre social distancing rule to one metre when they reopen if the length of a customer’s stay is restricted to 90 minutes.

Fáilte Ireland yesterday confirmed it received draft guidance from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) to safely reopen the sector.

It’s not yet clear how this €9 requirement will be enforced or if customers have to buy a meal worth a minimum of €9 each or as part of a group. 

The tourism body is currently in discussions with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport to clarify details around social distancing measures, and further updates are expected over the coming days.

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