New rules | 

Customers will be limited to 105 minute bookings when dining indoors

Fáilte Ireland drafted the guidelines in conjunction with the Department of the Tourism

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Philip Ryan and Gabija Gataveckaite

Bars and restaurants will only be able to serve customers for 105 minutes indoors if tables are less than two metres apart under new rules for the hospitality industry due to be released today.

However, the two-metre social distancing rule is to be halved for outdoor dining and there will be no time limits on how long customers can eat or drink outdoors.

There will be time limits on indoor dining if tables are placed one metre apart. There will be no time limit if customers are spaced two metres apart.

Table service will only be permitted and premises will have to have dedicated entrances and exits. Bars and restaurants will also be asked to put a greater focus on ventilation when they reopen.

It is also expected there will be a limit of six adults plus children per table.

The €9 meal rule is to be ditched meaning pubs that do not serve food will be permitted to serve customer outdoors from June 7.

Fáilte Ireland drafted the guidelines in conjunction with the Department of the Tourism.

The Department of the Taoiseach is examining the new regulations ahead of publication today.

Hotel, B&Bs and guesthouses can reopen from next Wednesday. Hotels residents will be permitted to eat and drink indoors.

Restaurant and pub lobby groups have called to be allowed to serve indoors on the same day.

Outdoor dining will be permitted from June 7 but indoor service is not expected to return until the first week of July at the earliest.

Meanwhile, non-essential travel and holidays abroad should return from July “if safe”, according to Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien.

He said that when he meets with Cabinet colleagues on Friday to decide on the next phase of the easing of restrictions, he will be pushing hard for the reopening of the aviation sector “as soon as possible”.

Minister O’Brien said that holidays abroad should form part of the vaccine bonus.

“I would like to see that happen as soon as possible, when it can be done safely.

“300,000 people were vaccinated last week, something that people did not think was possible a few weeks ago.

“Because of that, there has to be a vaccine bonus as well.” he added.

Speaking at Custom House this afternoon, he said that he would like to see non essential travel return “in July if it can”.

Minister O’Brien said that reopening the aviation sector is a sign of the return of “normality”.

“I would like to see it done as soon as it can be.

“Having air travel back when it can be done safely really points us towards getting back to normality.”

“I’ll be advocating certainly for an expeditious reopening in the sector as possible,” he said.

Minister O’Brien also said that Ministers will discuss if travel should return from July 1 and whether or not antigen testing should be used for international travel.

Nphet will meet on Thursday to decide on the next stage of the easing of restrictions. It will then make its recommendations to government, which the Cabinet Covid-19 sub committee will consider.

On Friday, Cabinet Ministers will consider all advice and make decisions on when indoor dining should resume, as well as pilot mass gathering events and holidays abroad.

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