“We welcome the publication of the outdoor guidelines which have been urgently needed by pubs and the rest of the hospitality sector as we get ready to resume outdoor service, having being mothballed for most of the last 15 months,” commented the Licensed Vintners Association Chief Executive Donall O’Keeffe, “While many pubs and hospitality venues won’t be in a position to provide outdoor service, it’s a welcome start and we’re looking forward to seeing activity of this nature begin from the 7th June.
“However” he added, “we were surprised and somewhat disappointed to see the time-limit in the guideline measures advanced for indoor service. “Indoor will be key to the recovery of hospitality and that needs to be facilitated by the 1st July at the latest as every day matters when you have been closed for 435 consecutive days.
“Given that indoor reopening is five weeks away and that as many as another 1.5 million vaccines may have been administered over that period, we’ll be pressing to have these guidelines reviewed and further sense-checked from a pragmatic perspective in advance of pubs and restaurants reopening for indoor service.
“There’s no point in introducing guidelines which will have unintended consequences around customer movement and interaction. There needs to be further reflection on the practicalities involved before pubs and restaurants are able to admit people through their doors again.”
The new hospitality Guidelines from Fáilte Ireland for the Summer season confirm the removal of the €9 meal requirement for all pubs but the introduction of a 105 minute-limit on customers at indoor tables which are only one metre apart (from the back of one chair to the back of another chair) where none exists if tables are two or more metres apart or are outside, has mystified many in the trade who can see no rational reason for such a time-limit.
Premises/outdoor areas must also be clear of all patrons by 11.30pm.
Fifteen minutes have been set aside for sanitising tables and chairs in preparation for the next group of customers.
And while tables will be limited to six people, children under 12 will not form part of this limit but with that in mind, the total combined capacity at a table must not exceed 15 persons overall.
Multiple tables cannot be booked indoors and no parties or social gatherings will be permitted indoors.
Staff are expected to wear masks as are customers when not seated at a table.
Widespread concern from pub trade
The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland has also welcomed the publication of the reopening guidelines for outdoor trading “which bring much-needed clarity to the sector that’s preparing to reopen for outdoor trading in less than two-weeks’ time.
However, the VFI too has expressed its members’ widespread concern at the introduction of a 105-minute time-limit for indoor customers and it is calling on government to remove this guideline in time for the commencement of indoor trading, which the Federation has requested be no later than the 1st of July.
“Outdoor trading is an important first step in reopening the trade but it’s not a long-term solution,” said VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribben, “As the guidelines make clear, there will be restrictions on numbers based on floor space, along with no music or singing and mandatory table service. The trade accepts these guidelines as necessary measures to protect customers and staff.”
However he pointed out that the 105-minute rule “is misplaced and will cause confusion within the trade.
“For instance, a pub with both outdoor and indoor areas could potentially be operating two different sets of rules.
“The country will be in a different place by the end of June when a further two million people are expected to be vaccinated,” he continued, “While the trade is committed to implementing guidelines that make visiting the local pub a safe and pleasant experience, the proposed time-limit is not a practical solution.
“It’s vitally important this is the last Lockdown and that once our pubs are open they remain open,” he concluded.