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Hotels, restaurants and cafes to get funding to upgrade premises for outdoor dining

On-street dining similar to that found in other European cities to be facilitated in urban areas, towns and villages.

The grants can be used by businesses to offset some of the costs incurred in upgrading premises for outdoor dining and seating.
The grants can be used by businesses to offset some of the costs incurred in upgrading premises for outdoor dining and seating.
Image: RollingNews.ie

Updated Mar 31st 2021, 11:20 AM

HOTELS, CAFES, RESTAURANTS and attractions where food is sold will be able to apply for outdoor dining grants of up to €4,000 to help facilitate an ‘outdoor summer’ this year. 

Minister for Tourism Catherine Martin and Fáilte Ireland announced details of a new €17 million scheme today which will be needed to help businesses transform their outdoor dining capacity.

The chair of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) epidemiological modelling advisory group Philip Nolan has previously said it’s clear “we’re looking at an outdoor summer” in 2021.

It comes after repeated calls for special grants to cover the costs in order for businesses to be able to facilitate outside dining. Local councils have also said they have plans in place to open up a lot more outdoor space, as well as ensuring that businesses are not bogged down in red tape when applying for use of footpath and road space for diners.

The Outdoor Dining Enhancement Scheme announced today comprises two parts and will be delivered in partnership between Fáilte Ireland and Local Authorities across the country. 

Part one of the funding is for outdoor seating and accessories to help tourism and hospitality businesses offset some of the costs incurred in upgrading premises for outdoor dining and seating.

This is open to individual tourism and hospitality businesses including hotels, cafes, restaurants and attractions where food is sold for consumption on the premises, and has a limit of €4,000 per grant. 

Local Authorities will administer the scheme.

All applicants will be required to comply with planning codes, legislative and other compliance requirements.

The second part of the scheme relates to weatherproofing and outdoor dining infrastructure, such as the development of medium to large-scale permanent public dining spaces in towns and urban centres in preparation for welcoming back visitors when it is safe to do so.

This funding is for local authorities, which can apply for up to €200,000 under this element of the scheme.

This money is to be used to upgrade and enhance streets and public spaces, as well as to  implement weather-proofing solutions which will facilitate year-round outdoor dining in urban tourism centres. 

Medium-to-large scale, weather-proofed dining areas for a collective of businesses in a single zone or street will be facilitated under the funding scheme, similar to those that exist in various European cities. 

This will include “permanent, design appropriate weatherproofing structures”, including parasols, electric heaters, wind breakers/screens and associated enabling works to accommodate these on-street changes on a long-term basis.

Roof structures and awnings will be considered subject to planning requirements being adhered to. 

Minister Martin said the new scheme aims to support jobs and businesses and to transform appropriate outdoor spaces within our cities and towns as welcoming, vibrant places that will help support economic recovery.

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Paul Kelly, CEO of Fáilte Ireland added: that it has been working closely with the County and City Management Association (CCMA) on behalf of the Local Authorities to design a scheme that will be efficient and practical.

“We look forward to seeing the results across the country,” he said.

Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien said his department, which is also in charge of loal authorities, is examining ways in which local councils “can support businesses in adapting new approaches to facilitate economic recovery and increased commercial activity in urban areas”.

This includes supporting outdoor dining at hotels, restaurants, pubs and other establishments as well as allowing restaurants to operate as takeaways for the current year without having to apply for change of use planning permission.

Speaking to reporters yesterday Tánaiste Leo Varadkar indicated that all going well with the vaccination programme and the case numbers falling, the government will look at the hospitality sector in late May ahead of a possible reopening in June.  

Transport Minister Eamon Ryan however acknowledged that for hoteliers that rely on bookings, more clarity may need to be provided by the end of next month, stating that it will be important to provide a “step-by-step approach” to the industry.

CEO of the Restaurants Association of Ireland Adrian Cummins said there is fury and hopelessness across the sector now. 

Specifically, Cummins said restaurants need to know if they will reopen alongside hotels and guesthouses.

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