Q&A: What to know as restaurants and gastropubs return to trade

Do I need to buy a substantial meal? 
Q&A: What to know as restaurants and gastropubs return to trade

Restaurants may now take indoor bookings again. Picture: Joleen Cronin

Restaurants, cafes and some pubs returned to trade today with reports of bookings flying in for the festive period. 

The hospitality sector has reopened after the government closed the industry in an attempt to curb the spread of Covid-19. 

The decision to allow restaurants and gastro pubs to reopen went against public health advice but the government was reported to be sympathetic to the sectors struggles. 

Why were pubs and restaurants closed? 

A decision was taken by the government to close pubs and restaurants under Level 5 in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus as in March earlier this year. 

Businesses had to revert to takeaway food and drink. 

Why are some pubs allowed to reopen?

Pubs that serve food are allowed to reopen. A previous provision that a €9 substantial meal be purchased with alcohol is also in place again.

Hotels will also open their bars to residents, but non-residents will be allowed under strict conditions.

However wet pubs or pubs that do not have a working kitchen are not permitted to reopen and are restricted to takeaway drink.  

Speaking last week Taoiseach Micheál Martin said there was no research that supported allowing wet pubs to return to business.

“Unfortunately, nothing in the research available to government supports any further reopening of wet pubs at this stage. I know how deeply frustrating this will be for business owners in this sector. I fully accept their goodwill about respecting guidelines.

"But the reality is that reopening indoor hospitality carries risks. And there's only so far we can safely go,” Mr Martin said.

What restrictions are in place for restaurants? 

Restaurants have returned to business under the government's modified Level 3 restrictions for the festive period. 

Having previously been restricted to takeaway food and prior to this outdoor dining, restaurants are now permitted to take indoor bookings however capacity limits remain in place. 

  • Six people maximum are permitted to sit at one table 
  • It is not possible for one group to reserve multiple bookings or multiple tables
  • The food must be prepared inside restaurants

  • A distance of two metres is required between tables however if this is not feasible, one metre is possible if dining time is limited to one hour and 45 minutes. 
  • No live or loud music is permitted 
  • Service must end at 11.30pm
  • Customers should wear facemasks when arriving and leaving the restaurant and need to remain seated in the restaurant to order.

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