The Restaurants Association of Ireland has said new guidelines for the hospitality industry from Fáilte Ireland are “unworkable“.
Live music is now allowed outdoors in pubs, restaurants and hotels under redrafted guidelines.
The guidelines published this morning allow live music and performances and multiple tables to be booked in outdoor areas for up to 200 people.
However live music remains banned for weddings, which will also continue to be capped at 100 people indoors.
Multiple tables can also be booked for outdoor events that can accommodate such a number.
The new rules say multiple tables can now be booked outdoors – but people can’t mingle between them.
While allowing multiple tables to be booked is a departure from the original guidelines, intermingling between the tables is not permitted and the 11.30pm curfew remains.
The new guidelines state that customers should wear face coverings/masks when moving around the outdoor dining area.
The capacity of the outdoor event area must be reviewed and the “overall capacity will depend on the size of the outdoor event area where customers will be seated,” the new guidelines state.
The changes to the guidance come after the Tánaiste attended a private outdoor party for former Minister Katherine Zappone in Dublin’s Merrion Hotel in July.
The Attorney General has since clarified that this event was within the law, but was not reflected in the Failte Ireland guidelines given to pubs and restaurants.
After meetings between government officials and the tourism board on Thursday, the new guidelines were sent to businesses on Friday.
The management of the bar or restaurant is responsible for minimising the number of arrival and departure points for customers and dedicated employees must always monitor and manage physical distancing rather than simply rely on signage.
Customers must remain seated at their table except when availing of the food counter service, using the toilet, paying, arriving, and departing.
Customers can use a food service counter, a BBQ, or buffet but are not permitted to access bar counters to order drinks.
As previously outlined, a maximum of six people aged 13 or over are permitted at a table. This limit of six does not include accompanying children aged 12 or younger and the total combined capacity at a table cannot exceed 15 overall.
The guidelines state an outdoor area must not be “wholly enclosed or substantially enclosed” which in practice means it must not have sides (including windows, doors, gates or other fittings that can be opened or shut) that enclose more than 50% of the perimeter of that area.
For example, a marquee or gazebo with a roof and four sides would not be an outdoor space and would be required to have at least 50% of its wall area open to the external air.
Adrian Cummins of the Restaurant Association Ireland says the new guidelines are “unworkable“.
“We’re not happy. These will be very difficult to implement,” he said. “Trying to police the intermingling of tables will be a big issue straight away.
“It’s very unworkable for the industry. If you have 33 tables of six, how do you stop people moving from table to table? Have someone to mind them?
“You could have 200 people on a street and no one cares. They should’ve spoken to the industry in the last 48 hours and we would’ve explained that.
“We’ve been outside the door again. We’ll be looking for a future meeting with government to discuss how to police this.”