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The public are being asked to support local restaurants by ordering a take away. Shutterstock/Mikhaylovskiy
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Restaurants allowed to operate take-away service without planning permission during Covid-19 crisis

Restaurants are allowed to remain open but only by offering a take away service.

PLANNING PERMISSION USUALLY needed by restaurants to operate as a take-away is being waived during the Covid-19 crisis, the government has confirmed.

Speaking during a daily briefing on the coronavirus situation, Liz Canavan, a senior official in the Department of An Taoiseach, confirmed that the government is waiving the change of purpose permission for restaurants so they can continue to operate as a take-away service. 

In normal circumstances, restaurants must be given a special dispensation to allow them operate a takeaway services largely due to parking issues and traffic management. 

During his announcements on the latest Covid-19 measures yesterday, the Taoiseach said cafes and restaurants could remain open, but they should be restricted to take away only. He quipped that Irish people get a quarter of their calories from take aways.

While many of the measures were welcomed by organisations such as the Restaurants Association of Ireland, it said it did have concerns in relation to the announcement of the 70% top-up of workers salary to a cap of €410 per week.

Small businesses must not be penalised due to cash flow difficulties, they said. 

Restaurants, cafes and hoteliers have called for further supports during this tough time, and have once again called for a reduction in the food VAT rate to 0%. In addition, there have been calls for local authority rates to be waived and for direct business supports, including finance and marketing assistance to be offered. 

While large restaurants such as McDonalds and Supermacs have closed their doors, a number of restaurants are still operating but through take away only, with many struggling to keep afloat. 

Amanda Roche-Kelly, Managing Director, Just Eat Ireland said they have been inundated with businesses that now want to offer a take away service.

“We’re doing everything in our power to drive the necessary orders to keep all our restaurant partners busy during these difficult days. Most of our existing partners remain open for delivery and collection and all are taking the necessary precautions to ensure safe delivery of food,” she said. 

As part of a suite of measures to help restaurants, Just Eat has reduced commissions for independent restaurants already on the Just Eat platform and abolished sign up fees for those joining the platform during the crisis period.

A team of people will work with the numerous restaurants who are seeking to offer a takeaway service for the first time – helping them to get online quickly while also giving them advice on optimising menus and opening times.

“We are also really conscious that there are hundreds of local independent restaurants in towns, villages and suburbs throughout the country that have been forced to close their doors. Previously they haven’t offered a delivery option but for them, this is the only way that they can keep staff employed and stay open during the period ahead,” said Roche-Kelly.  

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