The Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) has proposed to the government's public health emergency team that restaurants, cafés and gastropubs be allowed to reopen if they abide by World Health Organization (WHO) social distancing guidelines for restaurants during the COVID-19 crisis.
The RAI believes that eateries can operate safely if the number of diners is limited to four per 10 square metres and if tables are arranged in a way that the back of one chair is no more than a metre from another and diners facing one another are at least a metre apart, according to The Irish Times.
Additionally, the RAI has proposed that alcohol only be sold to customers while they are waiting for a meal, during a meal or within 30 minutes after they have finished their meal.
Call For Financial Support And Protective Equipment
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The RAI has also called for direct financial support for restaurants and small and medium-sized eateries by reducing their VAT rate to zero to help compensate for the fact that these operating restrictions would limit the number of paying customers that restaurants could host.
Furthermore, the RAI is seeking support grants, rent protection for commercial tenants and the write-off of local authority rates until such a time that a vaccine for COVID-19 is developed, and the industry wants to be provided with any personal protective equipment (PPE) that "may be deemed necessary" to be able to reopen and operate safely.
The RAI added that in situations in which restaurants are unable to keep food production workers at least one metre apart, measures such as staggering work stations on processing lines should be considered, and restaurant employees should be provided with PPE such as face masks, hair nets, disposable gloves, clean overalls and slip reduction work shoes.
The Irish Times quotes the RAI as saying, "The use of PPE would be routine in high-risk areas of food premises that produce ready-to-eat and cooked foods. Where staff are dressed in PPE, it is possible to reduce distance between workers."
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