Local authorities to be forced to allow pubs to expand onto pavements 

Local authorities to be forced to allow pubs to expand onto pavements 

Speaking at a virtual conference for publicans, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar made clear the previous requirement for customers to have a €9 meal has been eliminated and dining tables will be spaced between 1m or 1.5m apart as opposed to 2m

The Government is to force local authorities to allow pubs with no indoor space to expand onto pavements, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said.

He said he was “very much” encouraging city councils and county councils to use the outdoor space. This is a good opportunity to reimagine our streets and have it used for the public for outdoor dining and outdoor drinking and not so much for cars, he said.

Confirming that outdoor drinking will return on June 7, Mr Varadkar said it is intended that indoor dining and drinking will return in July.

“On June 7, we'll see outdoor dining and outdoor drinking resumed, and all things going to plan, indoor in July,” he said.

What we've done in the revised plan is, we've ended the distinction between wet pubs and gastropubs, let's never hear the term wet pub again, that's gone and outdoor drinking and dining won't be limited to 15, there'll be no requirement of a substantial meal either.” 

He made clear the previous requirement for customers to have a €9 meal has been eliminated and dining tables will be spaced between 1m or 1.5m apart as opposed to 2m.

Limited to table service

Speaking at a virtual conference for publicans, Mr Varadkar said customers will not be able to sit at the bar and will be limited to table service and while pubs will not be limited to 15 people, operating at full capacity is not likely either.

Mr Varadkar made clear the reduced VAT rate of 9% will stay in place, at least until the end of the year and hopefully a bit longer when unit pricing will come into place in January.
Mr Varadkar made clear the reduced VAT rate of 9% will stay in place, at least until the end of the year and hopefully a bit longer when unit pricing will come into place in January.

“I imagine it will be something in the space of table service only – a lead person whose name will have to be taken for contact tracing and a gap of maybe a metre, metre and a half between tables but I know my local pub has a beer garden that can take 140 in normal times so perhaps they'll operate at a reduced capacity to that,” he told host Ivan Yates.

He said customers should be able to use the toilets indoors even if they are seated outdoors.

“My expectation is that you'll be able to use the toilet. It'd be a good idea for lots of reasons that people should be able to use the lavatory rather than availing of potential alternatives. But that would need to be organised so you'd have to go in and wear a mask while you're indoors,” he said.

'Special help' for pub sector

Mr Varadkar said the pub sector can expect some “special help” from the Government, given what it has had to endure.

He made clear the reduced VAT rate of 9% will stay in place, at least until the end of the year and hopefully a bit longer when unit pricing will come into place in January.

“But one thing that I do want to say is we do appreciate that publicans may need a little bit of extra special help, because you're really important parts of our society,” Mr Varadkar told the conference.

He also said travel restrictions between Ireland and Britain should be lifted during the summer, but travel from other countries is further away than that.

Mr Varadkar said he wants the Common Travel Area between the two countries restored to aid tourism.

“One thing I would like to see, and this would be very good for places like Kerry, is a return to travel between Ireland and the United Kingdom.”

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