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new plans Cabinet Committee agrees to allow gastropubs and restaurants reopen in December despite Nphet warning


chef in open kitchen in casual dining restaurant

chef in open kitchen in casual dining restaurant

chef in open kitchen in casual dining restaurant

Restaurants and gastropubs will be permitted to open in December under plans which will be put before Cabinet today.

The Cabinet Committee on Covid-19 has agreed to allow restaurants and pubs to open over Christmas despite the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) warning against the move.

The final details of when they will be allowed open has yet to be agreed but the Government is looking at dates between December 4 and 11.

After a five-hour meeting in Government Buildings, the Taoiseach and his senior ministerial team decided to go ahead with plans to allow the hospitality sector to reopen.

However, there will be stricter rules on how many people can visit a restaurant and how long they can stay.

As a compromise to Nphet, the Government said it will have stricter rules on household gatherings over Christmas.

Household visits will be banned until December 18 and will only be permitted after that until January 3. Inter-county travel will also be permitted in this time period as will religious services.

The Government was earlier asked to choose between reopening the hospitality sector or permitting families to hold social gathering in their homes after Christmas.

Nphet had warned the Government it should not ease restrictions on household gatherings if it plans to allow restaurants and gastro pubs to open in December.

Nphet insisted restaurants and pubs should only be allowed provide takeaway or delivery service in December to stop the virus.

The group led by Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan proposed easing restrictions on household visits from December 21 to January 3 while also allowing county to county travel.

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It proposed six people from no more than three households would be able to gather in homes during the two week period.

However, in a letter to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, Mr Holohan said Nphet recommendations on household visits would need to be stricter if restaurants and bars were allowed to open over Christmas.

Last night, Cabinet ministers dismissed the Nphet advice, insisting there will be resistance to attempts to prevent the Government from reopening the hospitality sector.

“It can’t be a choice of either or – people want to go out and have a meal and we have to do something to allow family visits over Christmas,” a Cabinet minister said.

Another senior minister said the Cabinet will push to have restaurants and pubs that serve food open even after Nphet recommended against it.

“Look I think we are going to stick to the plan to open restaurants later in the month and then ease restrictions for families closer to Christmas,” the minister said.

Another senior government source said: “the three party leaders share the same view on opening restaurants ahead of Christmas.”

The Cabinet Committee on Covid-19 met with Mr Holohan and HSE Chief Executive Paul Reid last night to discuss reopening the country before a Cabinet meeting this afternoon.

The Government wants to allow restaurants and pubs that have kitchens open in December.

It also wants to allow up to four households meet over Christmas while allowing people to travel between counties to see friends and family.

Nphet has recommended moving into enhanced Level 3 restrictions next week.

This would see non-essential retail, gyms and hairdressers reopen.

Concerns were raised about opening shopping centres and Nphet said “robust” measures should be put in place to ensure the virus did not spread rapidly among shoppers.

The group also said two households could be allowed to meet indoors starting next week and the 5km travel rule could be lifted to allow people travel within their counties.

However, it suggested people should keep non-essential travel to within their local communities.

It said third level education should remain online where possible and people should only leave their home to go to work when it is absolutely necessary.

Nphet suggested that later in December residents in nursing homes and other residential care facilities could have one visitor a week.

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