Pubs and restaurants could be allowed to reopen next Friday

Outlets serving food could be given an extra weekend of business if case numbers allow, The Irish Examiner understands. 
Pubs and restaurants could be allowed to reopen next Friday

The Commodore Hotel, Cobh, Co Cork.

Restaurants and pubs serving food could be allowed to open as early as December 4,  The Irish Examiner understands. 

Originally, the government had planned to open the pubs on December 7, but publicans and restauranteurs are keen to have as many trading weekends between now and Christmas as possible. 

Government is said to be sympathetic to that viewpoint and could allow them to open from next Friday if case numbers allow. 

However, wet pubs and pubs which don't have a working kitchen are unlikely to be able to open this year.

The openings will eschew NPHET advice after the medics recommended that gastro-pubs and restaurants only operate on a takeaway and delivery service basis over Christmas. 

Nphet also advised that a choice should be made between relaxing the rules on household visits and allowing the hospitality sector to reopen, but the Government is expected to allow both, with household visits allowed in Christmas week.

However, pub owners have said that there is no logical basis to disqualify wet pubs.

Donall O’Keeffe, Chief Executive of the Licensed Vintners Association, said the same regulations apply in 'wet' pubs such as time limits, social distancing requirements and compulsory table service.

"The Government can’t hide behind NPHET now if they decide to single out the ‘wet’ pubs and keep them closed," said Mr O'Keeffe.

The Government will later today announce its plan to exit level 5 restrictions. The country has been in lockdown for nearly six weeks and today's announcement will chart the course from now until January.

An announcement is due to be made around 6pm.

It comes as the number of cases remains stubbornly high, with 335 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 and a further three deaths notified.

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