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Publicans say they face 87% reduction in capacity with 2m social distancing

Yesterday the CMO said the two metre social distancing advice is “not a rule” and it will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.

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PUBLICANS HAVE SAID capacities at bars will drop to as little as one eight of their pre-Covid-19 levels under the current two metre social distancing guidelines.

A report published by the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) and Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) today outlines how standing capacity in a 100m squared area of a premises would be reduced to 12.5% under the current guidelines.

Seating capacity would be reduced to 34% of pre-crisis levels, according to the report.

Yesterday, Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said the two metre social distancing advice is “not a rule, it is guidance”. He said this advice will remain in place for now, but it will be reviewed along with all other public health guidelines on an ongoing basis.

Concerns have been raised about the impact the measures will have on businesses as the country re-opens, as well as people’s ability to use public transport.

“We think, for the moment, two metres is a reasonable compromise given where we are,” Dr Holohan said yesterday.

The report published today, compiled by Knapton Consulting Engineers states that total capacity for a typical pub or bar/restaurant with an area of 140 square metres would drop by 79% if the bar and seating areas were square in shape and not enclosed.

The report noted an “87% reduction in capacity figure is a much more representative figure for a typical bar and restaurant layout when the 2m physical distancing restrictions are applied”.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, maximum occupancy in a licensed premises was calculated at a rate of two persons per square metre for standing areas and one person per square metre for seated areas. This meant a premises could accommodate up to 200 people standing or 100 people seating for every 100 square metres.

“We are now only a matter of weeks away from pubs with restaurant certificates and other hospitality venues reopening,” LVA chief executive Donall O’Keeffe said.

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“That is due to be followed six weeks later by the reopening of other pubs across the country. It is vital that pub businesses fully grasp the commercial challenges they will face and thoroughly examine the prospects for whether they can afford to reopen.”

He said the World Health Organization guideline of one metre social distancing would still reduce capacity significantly, but it would “at least allow more pubs and other hospitality businesses to be capable of trading in the shorter term”.

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