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Pubs 'extremely happy' with 7 June outdoor opening but some restaurateurs still 'frustrated'

Restaurant owners are unhappy that hotels can serve food indoors before them.

Image: Shutterstock/Hunter Bliss Images

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has this evening confirmed that pubs and hospitality will reopen for outside business on 7 June. 

It also emerged that hotels and B&Bs can reopen on 2 June and will be permitted to serve residents indoors.

There will be no distinction between restaurants, pubs or other food outlets and the €9 meal measure will not return.

There is no fixed date for indoor dining, but it is set to be some time in July.

The easing of restrictions is all subject to the “prevailing disease situation and a full assessment by public health at that time”, a statement from Government read.

Publicans as well as those involved in the hospitality trade had been calling on the Government to unveil a definite roadmap for reopening. This evening, they welcomed the clarity.

The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) said it was “extremely pleased” with the news but urged the Government to ensure indoor trading resumes as quickly as possible.

VFI chief executive, Padraig Cribben, said: “After a tortuous year for the pub trade, it’s hugely positive that our members can reopen their doors for outdoor trading from 7 June.

“It’s an important first step to getting the trade fully reopen but can only be viewed as a short-term solution and we’re calling on Government to confirm a date to restart indoor trading as soon as possible.

“The fact hotels can reopen indoors from early June demonstrates that it’s safe to resume hospitality, with appropriate social distancing, in such venues. It would be wholly unfair to allow hotels trade indoors but prohibit pubs and restaurants from doing so.”

Meanwhile, not all restaurateurs are not happy. 

The Restaurant Association of Ireland said its reaction to today’s announcement is one of disbelief, confusion and frustration.

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This is with regard to the decision to permit hotel & guesthouse restaurants to operate as normal for residents by offering indoor dining options from the proposed date of Thursday 2 June whilst restricting independent restaurants, coffee shops and gastro pubs to outdoor dining only from the 7 June.

Adrian Cummins, Chief Executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland said: “We are calling on the Government to publish the medical and scientific evidence deeming a hotel or guesthouse restaurant safer than an independent restaurant, coffee shop or gastro pub. 

“Restaurants, hotels, cafes and gastropubs have all followed and implemented the exact same safety protocols for diners since June of last year. I want to be clear, if the medical advisors have decided it is now safe for indoor dining then Hotels should reopen – what we are asking for is Indoor Dining Equality and to reopen at the same time!”

In a press conference this evening, Taoiseach Martin defended the decision regarding hotels. 

There is public health advice to back up the decision to allow dining in hotels first, the Taoiseach said, answering questions from reporters this evening. He said he believed the plans made sense and that the government would be happy to publish the guidance they had received.

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