The Irish government has announced that hotels, bed and breakfasts, hostels and guesthouses will be permitted to reopen from June 2, and outdoor restaurant and pub services will be permitted from June 7.
When hotels, bed and breakfasts, hostels and guesthouses reopen on June 2, they will be permitted to provide indoor dining services for residents, but not for non-residents. Accommodation venues' leisure facilities will also only be available to residents.
Food And Drink Venues
Restaurants, pubs and bars will be permitted to provide outdoor services from June 7. The previous €9 meal requirement for pubs and bars will no longer apply, and pubs that serve food and pubs that do no serve food, or so-called "wet pubs", will be permitted to provide outdoor services from June 7.
Sector-specific health and safety measures will apply. Groups of up to six people will be permitted to avail of outdoor restaurant, pub and bar services.
A date has not been announced yet for when restaurants and pubs will be permitted to begin providing indoor services again, but they may be permitted to do so from sometime in July.
The government said that it will give consideration to permitting restaurants and pubs to begin providing indoor dining again once vaccinations have reached a critical mass.
The government said that it will also give consideration to permitting nightclubs and casinos to reopen once vaccinations have reached critical mass.
Mass Gatherings And International Travel
The government will also give consideration to permitting mass gatherings and international travel to resume once vaccinations have reached critical mass.
The government is currently continuing to advice against non-essential overseas travel. Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that the current mandatory quarantine system for individuals entering the country will be reviewed at the end of May.
Intercounty Travel And Meeting Other People
Travelling to anywhere in the country will be permitted from May 10, and people will also be permitted to meet outdoors including in private gardens from this date. A maximum of three households or six people will be permitted to meet in a private garden from this date.
Fully vaccinated people will be permitted to meet indoors with people from up to three households from May 10, and fully vaccinated people will also be permitted to meet unvaccinated people from one household indoors from this date, as long as they are not at risk of severe illness and no more than three households are present.
Indoor visits to private homes from one other household may be permitted from June 7.
Museums, Galleries And Other Cultural Attractions
Museums, galleries and other cultural attractions will be permitted to reopen from May 10 with strict social distancing guidelines still applying.
Weddings, Gyms, Swimming Pools, Leisure Centres, Cinemas And Theatres
Up to 50 guests will be permitted to attend a civil or religious wedding service from May 10, however, only up to six people will be permitted to attend indoor wedding receptions, and up to 15 people will be permitted to attend outdoor wedding receptions.
Up to 25 guests will be permitted to attend wedding receptions from June 7, and gyms, swimming pools and leisure centres will be permitted to reopen for individual training only from this date.
Cinemas and theatres may be permitted to reopen sometime in June.
Closely Monitoring The Situation
Martin said that the government will closely monitor the effect of all of the above announced changes, and they will be subject to the COVID-19 situation remaining stable going forward.
Responding to the announcement that hotels will be permitted to reopen from June 2, Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) president Elaina Fitzgerald Kane said, "The clarity given by the government today is critical and should give a much-needed confidence boost to consumers who are planning a break or a staycation over the coming months. The domestic market was a real positive last year and will be very important for the hotel sector again this summer. While booking levels have been low so far, we expect that will change now and I would encourage anyone planning a break to book early. There is excellent value and availability right across the country at present. I would also urge people to make direct contact with hotels, so they can be sure of getting the most suitable and best available packages for them.
Fitzgerald Kane added, "The summer months are always important for the tourism industry, and for many they are a life-buoy for the remainder of the year. However, our industry has been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and with some level of restrictions likely for some time to come, tourism recovery is not going to begin in earnest until 2022. The supports to date have been very welcome, but it is essential that the government provides greater clarity and certainty now around supports into 2022 and beyond. Wait and see is not the approach for sustainable business planning and job recovery.
"Public health remains our number one priority as society and the economy reopens. The hotel sector has a vital role to play as part of this process in ensuring Irish tourism and hospitality returns to a more stable footing in the months ahead - helping to sustain thousands of businesses and almost 270,000 livelihoods throughout the country. These jobs represent 11% of total employment nationally and, with 70% located outside of Dublin, tourism and hospitality makes a vital contribution to communities in every county and town throughout the country. The industry's recovery must be to the fore of government economic policy as we seek to restore employment levels as quickly as possible."
Meanwhile, Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) chief executive Adrian Cummins stated, "Restaurants, hotels, cafés and gastropubs have all followed and implemented the exact same safety protocols for diners since June of last year. I want to be clear, if the medical advisors have decided it is now safe for indoor dining then hotels should reopen - what we are asking for is indoor dining equality and to reopen at the same time."
Additionally, Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) chief executive Padraig Cribben stated, "After a tortuous year for the pub trade, it's hugely positive that our members can reopen their doors for outdoor trading from 7th June. It's an important first step to getting the trade fully reopen but can only be viewed as a short-term solution and we're calling on government to confirm a date to restart indoor trading as soon as possible.
"The fact hotels can reopen indoors from early June demonstrates that it's safe to resume hospitality, with appropriate social distancing, in such venues. It would be wholly unfair to allow hotels trade indoors but prohibit pubs and restaurants from doing so.
"Reopening outdoor trading from the June Bank Holiday Monday will instil some badly needed confidence into the pub sector. While it will be a momentous day for some, it's important to recognise the majority of pubs do not have outdoor space so those publicans will be anxiously waiting for confirmation of an indoor reopening date.
"The consistent message from publicans is that once they reopen they must be allowed stay open. There can be no return to the periodic lockdowns of the past year. They devastated the trade and it will take years to mount a full recovery.
"It's vital that supports in the guise of a revamped Restart Grant Plus and the continuation of the EWSS and CRSS payments are announced immediately. The 7th June reopening will be a big day for the trade but there remains some distance to travel before the pub trade is back on its feet."
© 2021 Hospitality Ireland – your source for the latest industry news. Article by Dave Simpson. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.