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Government likely to scrap €9 rule as minister says outdoors makes it safe 'not whether you eat chicken nuggets'

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said it was a ‘false kind of division’.

Ryan said that he believes that the intercounty travel ban will be lifted when hotels reopen.
Ryan said that he believes that the intercounty travel ban will be lifted when hotels reopen.
Image: Sasko Lazarov

THE GOVERNMENT IS likely to scrap the €9 substantial meal rule which was in force last summer. 

Speaking ahead of a Cabinet Covid sub-committee meeting this evening, Green Party leader Eamon Ryan said there won’t be a distinction between wet pubs and pubs that serve food when the hospitality industry is allowed to reopen.

Last summer some pubs serving food were allowed to reopen alongside restaurants with a rule that a customer had to have a “substantial meal” to go with their pint.

So-called ‘wet’ pubs were only able to open for a few weeks in the autumn while in Dublin pubs in this sector never reopened at all.  

The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) maintains the €9 meal requirement is an “outmoded regulation” and have previously called for clarification that it will not be re-introduced this summer.

When asked if the €9 substantial meal rule will feature for summer 2021, Ryan said:

“I think less likely, I think we’ve learned outdoors is safe, not whether you’re having chicken nuggets on top of it.

“We don’t want all those systems where people get a certain meal. It was a false kind of division. I think it will start outdoors because it’s much safer.

“I don’t think it will be whether it’s divided by food or not. Outdoors versus indoors will be the difference,” said Ryan.

It is understood that some ministers are pushing for outdoor dining to reopen at the end of May.

However, other sources state it is a “rumour” and they “don’t know where it is coming from”, with one stating that they would be happy enough with outdoor dining in June.

The Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Transport Minister will meet with health chiefs and government officials tonight to discuss the reopening of society in May and into the summer months. 

Ryan told reporters today that the hope is to get hospitality back open in June.

Indoor dining is most likely not going to happen until later in the summer, he said.

Intercounty travel is also set to be allowed in June, indicated Ryan, who said: 

“The opening up of hospitality is intercounty travel.

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“The two are together so hopefully June we’ll see that the summer start, really, in earnest.”

While he said he did not want to give false promises for air travel, he said with vaccinations ramping up, there will be opportunities to travel in just a few months.

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