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People dining outdoors in Dublin last October. Sasko Lazarov
summer dining

Regulations drafted to waive restaurant street furniture fees nationwide this year

Draft regulations would also remove a planning permission requirement to bring in awnings and coverings for outdoor dining.

REGULATIONS HAVE BEEN drafted to temporarily remove fees charging restaurants €125 per table for street dining.

The Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien has drafted a number of regulations related to outdoor dining at restaurants, cafes and other facilities when they are permitted to reopen.

Temporary regulations were previously approved to allow restaurants to operate as takeaways without the requirement to seek planning permission.

O’Brien will bring forward regulations to extend this until the end of 2021. The regulations are currently due to expire in November. 

A regulation will also be put forward to provide a ‘zero fee’ street furniture licence for this year. Currently, restaurants with street dining pay an annual fee of €125 per table, although this has been waived by many local authorities during the pandemic. 

The minister also intends to amend the existing street furniture licence to bring in awnings and coverings as a new class under the licence.

This would permanently remove these structures from the requirement to submit a planning application. 

This would be covered under the same street furniture licence and fee arrangements as tables and chairs on an ongoing basis, it is understood. 

These changes are expected to take place in the next couple of weeks, pending approval, after they after they are put forward by Minister O’Brien. 

Hotels, cafes, restaurants and attractions where food is sold can already apply for outdoor dining grants of up to €4,000 to help transform their outdoor dining capacity ahead of the summer months. 

The Outdoor Dining Enhancement Scheme, which opened to applicants on Tuesday, will provide funding 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 are administering the scheme and all applicants will be required to comply with planning codes, legislative and other compliance requirements. Further details can be found here.

The Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said on Thursday he is “increasingly confident” that both indoor and outdoor dining will reopen during the summer. 

He said: “It is increasingly evident that outdoor dining is much safer than indoor.

“But we would hope to get to the point where both will be possible.”

- Additional reporting by Christina Finn. 

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