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Two-metre social distancing rule could be reduced to one metre for pubs and restaurants opening this month

Restaurants and pubs which serve food are due to repen at the end of June.

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PUBS AND RESTAURANTS may be allowed to reduce the two metre social distancing rule to one metre when they reopen if the length of a customer’s stay is restricted to 90 minutes, it has emerged. 

Sources confirmed that consideration is being given to reducing the social distancing advice ahead of restaurants, and pubs which serve food, reopening from 29 June. 

Pubs without a restaurant licence are currently scheduled to reopen from 20 July.

The chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan and the National Public Health Emergency Team previously raised concerns about members of the public gathering in confined spaces for longer than a two hour period. It is understood this concern will influence any changes to the current guidelines.

It comes as Fáilte Ireland yesterday confirmed it received draft guidance from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) to safely reopen the sector.

The tourism body is currently in discussions with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport to clarify details around social distancing measures, and further updates are expected over the coming days.

Padraig Cribben, chief executive of the Vintners Federations of Ireland said the increased capacity for publicans was welcome but added that it is “still very restrictive”. 

“I think the important thing to point out is that these are for the food operations between 29 June and 20 July. It’s not in relation to a normal pub, a normal wet pub as it would be called, when it opens,” he said speaking on RTÉ Radio 1′s Morning Ireland programme. 

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“So yes, the two-metres to one is very important from a capacity point of view. It’s still very restrictive. We had some independent research done that says that even at the one metre seating capacity is reduced by 35%, so from a viability point of view it’s still going to be very challenging.” 

Pubs which reopen on 29 June will be expected to provide “substantial meals” that cost at least €9, Fáilte Ireland said.

This is in line with the intoxicating Liquor Act 1962 which states “the meal is such as might be expected to be served as a main midday or evening meal or as a main course in either such meal”.  

With reporting from Christina Finn

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