Leo Varadkar has urged local authorities to “do what they can” to support business and restaurants to facilitate as much outdoor dining as possible this summer.
As the vaccination rollout ramps up from the second quarter of this year, the Government hope to ease restrictions to open up sections of the economy.
However, the restrictions on indoor dining at venues will be the last to be eased and these businesses will have to wait even longer to welcome customers.
Philip Nolan, the chair of the NPHET’s epidemiological modelling advisory group has said “we’re looking at an outdoor summer in 2021.”
Many restaurants have had issues with planning permission to facilitate more outdoor dining and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has discussed these issues in an interview with TheJournal.ie.
Mr Varadkar is the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment and has urged local authorities to do all they can this summer.
“At the moment we’re in Level 5, so that means the virus is at a high level in the community and people shouldn’t be gathering inside or outside except for essential reasons. People can still meet one other household outside for exercise, but that’s it.”
“Hopefully, if we all continue to do what we’re doing and we bring the level of the virus down, we will be able to ease restrictions enough during the summer period to allow some small gatherings occur.”
When Ireland moves to lower level restrictions, businesses must be supported according to Leo Varadkar.
“If those conditions are met and if we are in a position to ease restrictions, I would definitely be encouraging all local authorities to do what they can for their local businesses.”
“We know outdoor retail and outdoor seating is safer to indoor, however I understand too that councils need to take into account the need for space for pedestrians, wheelchair users and buggies when making these decisions. So I would hope that a balance can be struck on what works best for each local area.”
Last summer, numerous local authorities helped businesses by letting them use car parks, public spaces and footpaths to serve customers as long as certain conditions were met.
Despite these allowances, many restaurants and other businesses have had planning permission issues that have stifled them.
Owners at the Glovers Café in Bray have set up an online petition to help them secure permission to add seats to their premises in order to facilitate outdoor dining.
Speaking to TheJournal.ie, the owners said they had “endless trouble” in an attempt to get more seats outside.
Along with making it easier for businesses to have outdoor dining, licensing laws are set to change with the hope of allowing pubs, nightclubs and other cultural venues to stay open later once restrictions are eased.
Easing of restrictions will depend on the rate of Coronavirus in the country and the vaccination rollout is the biggest factor.
The HSE did not meet its 100,000 vaccination target last week and supply this week is said to be slower as there have been issues with a supply from AstraZeneca.
Latest figures from Ireland’s Covid-19 Data Hub show that a total of 446,474 doses of the vaccine have been administered.
These include 303,550 first doses while 142,924 people have received their second jab.
Leo Varadkar promised his parliamentary that Ireland would vaccinate 300,000 people per week in April, you can check out Radio Nova’s report on it here.