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ireland reopens 'We can't wait' - hotels and guesthouses prepare to open their doors for the first time this year

464 cases of Covid were reported on Saturday, with 90 people in hospital and 35 in ICU.

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David Fitzgibbon of Aherne’s Townhouse and Seafood Bar in Youghal, Co Cork

David Fitzgibbon of Aherne’s Townhouse and Seafood Bar in Youghal, Co Cork

David Fitzgibbon of Aherne’s Townhouse and Seafood Bar in Youghal, Co Cork

Hotels and guesthouses throughout the country were making last-minute arrangements this weekend as they prepared to open their doors for the first time this year.

Under restrictions being lifted from June 2nd, hoteliers nationwide will return to hospitality.

“We’ve been on to our fishermen and our vegetable suppliers and it just feels lovely to be opening our doors again,” said David Fitzgibbon, co-owner and head chef at Aherne’s Townhouse and Seafood Bar in Youghal, Co Cork.

“We’re opening on Thursday, the rooms are busy and lots of people are ready to go - and if we get weather like we have here today it’ll be fantastic.

“It’s so strange when you go down and the place is empty. We’re delighted to get back to some sort of normality. It’s nice to have something definite, it’s all been very up in the air. I think there’s a lot of optimism in going ahead. It’s nice to think that we’re opening and not have to think about closing again. And everyone who worked for us last year is back, which is super.”

Under a loosening of restrictions being introduced on June 2nd, hotel guests will be permitted to dine and drink indoors. Current guidelines state that if tables are more than two metres apart, there will be no time limit. But if they’re less than two metres apart, guests must pre-book and the sittings are limited to 105 minutes.

464 cases of Covid were reported on Saturday, with 90 people in hospital and 35 in ICU. The national 14-day incidence rate is 127 cases per hundred thousand people in the population.

Ali McHugh, general manager of The Harbour Hotel in Galway, said staff were looking forward to welcoming tourists and is expecting a good deal of domestic tourism this year. “We can’t wait. We’ve always tried to keep going and stayed open for essential travel but we want to get back to doing what we do best. It’s going to be different this year but we’re looking forward to it.

“We have to adapt to who our new customer is which is the domestic leisure traveller. We’re well placed to give people recommendations, where to go in the city and what to do. It’s nice for people to experience that.”

Meanwhile in the UK, pressure was mounting on Saturday on Boris Johnson to delay the June 21st date for ending restrictions as cases climbed over 4,000 for the first time since March. Scientists have warned that a premature relaxation of restrictions could lead to a dangerous spike in the UK.

The growth is at least partly due to the growing prevalence of the Indian strain of the virus, according to experts.

Professor Andrew Hayward, a member of the government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group, said cases of this variant were doubling every week and “it only takes five or six doublings for that to get up to a quarter of a million cases”.

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Last night health secretary Matt Hancock said up to 75% of new cases could be the Indian variant.

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