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Guidelines for return of hospitality delayed for government sign-off

There is no fixed date set for the return of indoor dining but it’s expected to be some time in July.

Outdoor dining returns from 7 June.
Outdoor dining returns from 7 June.
Image: LeahFarrell/RollingNews.ie

Updated May 25th 2021, 6:37 PM

INDUSTRY GUIDELINES FOR the return of hospitality will not be published today as planned. 

The much-awaited guidelines are being prepared ahead of the return of outdoor dining and drinking in restaurants and pubs from 7 June.

Ahead of that date, hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses are to begin accepting guests from tomorrow week 2 June, with residents permitted to dine indoors.

The new guidelines from Fáilte Ireland were to be published this afternoon but it is understood they are still being considered by the government ahead of final sign-off. 

While the final guidelines are being considered, it’s understood they include provisions for the return of a 105-minute time limit for indoor dining if there is a one-metre space between tables. 

Should two-metre social distancing be implemented, it’s understood that no such time-limit would apply indoors. 

The guidelines are not expected recommend that a time-limit should apply to outdoor hospitality but businesses are being told that they are free to introduce their own such limits. 

Social distancing of one-metre will apply between tables outdoors but there is no limit on outdoor occupancy. For a period last year when outdoor hospitality was permitted there was a limit of 15 people, but this will not apply under the new guidelines. 

There is no fixed date set for the return of indoor dining but it’s expected to be some time in July.

Yesterday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin downplayed the possibility that it could return at the beginning of July but a timeline is set to be agreed by Cabinet in consultation with NPHET this week. 

Martin said yesterday “we’ll see what happens during July” and emphasised that a graduated approach would be taken. 

Publicans and restauranteurs have been critical of the government’s approach, particularly the fact that hotels will be permitted to serve food indoors to residents when they reopen next week while restaurants and pubs cannot.  

The Restaurants Association of Ireland has described the decision to “divide hotel restaurants and independent restaurants” as “anti-competitive, inequitable and without public health rationale”. 

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In an update today on the number of people in receipt of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), the Department of Social Protection outlined that the hospitality sector is still the most-affected industry, with 93,687 people on the PUP out of the total of 334,000 people receiving it. 

- With reporting by Christina Finn 

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Rónán Duffy

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