Limit of 90 minutes on pub and restaurant visits proposed

Social distancing rule may be relaxed to one metre in some premises under new guidelines

A spokeswoman for the tourism body said pubs and bars would be required to serve a ‘substantial meal’ to customers. Photograph: iStock

A spokeswoman for the Irish tourism body said pubs and bars would be required to serve a ‘substantial meal’ to customers.

By Jack Power, Sarah Burns in The Irish Times

Pubs reopening at the end of the month will be required to serve a substantial meal costing at least €9, according to new guidelines to be published in the coming days.

Fáilte Ireland has also said new guidance for food businesses from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) will include a potential reduction in social distancing measures from two metres to one metre in certain circumstances.

The tourism development agency said it was working with officials in the Department of Transport and Tourism to seek clarity on the guidance.

Sources confirmed on Wednesday the guidelines also recommend customers pre-book visits and limit their length of stay in the pub or restaurant to a maximum of 90 minutes.

Previously the Government had said a relaxation of the two-metre social distancing rule in certain cases to allow the hospitality sector reopen was under consideration.

In a statement on Tuesday, Fáilte Ireland said it would publish its own guidelines for pubs reopening as restaurants on June 29th in the coming days.

A spokeswoman for Fáilte Ireland said pubs and bars would be required to serve a “substantial meal” to customers.

A substantial meal will be defined as one that “might be expected to be served as a main midday or evening meal or as a main course in either such meal”.

The guidance from Fáilte Ireland to pubs will be that meals provided should cost at least €9, the tourism body said.

Pubs were initially intended to be permitted to reopen on August 10th under the Government’s five-phase plan, but this roadmap was condensed to four phases in recent weeks.

Under the accelerated plan pubs will be allowed to reopen at the end of this month if they operate as restaurants serving food.

Previously Dr Tony Holohan, the State’s chief medical officer, had said pubs operating as restaurants would not mean several people meeting up “for a few pints and having a packet of peanuts”.

Pubs reopening as restaurants would not need a restaurant licence to do so, the Government has said.

STOP PRESS: Pubs intending to open from the end of the month can provide a time slot of an hour and three quarters for customers under final guidelines for the industry.

Businesses will also be allowed to implement a one-metre physical distancing guideline in “permitted controlled environments.”

Following pressure from industry representatives, the seating time in pubs has changed from 90 minutes to 105 minutes with an additional 15 minutes between bookings, which is two hours in total.

“The 15 minutes has been added to allow for adequate cleaning and to ensure customers leave and enter without mixing,” the guidelines state.

Businesses will now also be required to collect the contact information of just the “party lead”.  Previously, it was going to have to be everyone’s.

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