The Government has announced that, effective as of Sunday 20th December, the hospitality sector will have to close at 8pm every day.

This is three hours later than than the National Public Health Emergency Team’s recommendations, made late on Thursday night. Numerous cabinet ministers, senators, and opposition TDs had expressed anger at the recommendation, which would have effectively shut the sector down completely.

Addressing the nation at a televised event, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the Omicron variant of COVID 19 is “Exploding throughout Europe”. He warned of a “Massive rise in infections” in the coming weeks and months.

The Taoiseach has confirmed the following restrictions, in place as of Sunday 20th December:

  • Restaurants and bars must close at 8pm each evening (this does not affect takeaways and delivery services)
  • No indoor events after 8pm
  • Indoor events during the day to be capped at 50% capacity, or 1,000 attendees
  • Outdoor events capped at 50% or 5,000 attendees
  • Wedding receptions capped at 100 attendees

The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) has called the 8pm closing time as ‘closure in camoufage’, a reference to the fact that most pubs will now have to close out of necessity as the restriction makes their businesses unviable.

Donall O’Keeffe, Chief Executive of the LVA, said: “We can’t stay closed indefinitely, yet that increasingly seems to be the Government’s approach to our sector. We need a realistic long term plan.”

Adrian Cummins, CEO of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, said: “This has been a devastating blow for hospitality businesses and employees this evening.

“The majority of hospitality businesses rely on income from the Christmas period to see them through the quieter first two months of the year. The loss of income over Christmas is about more than just the festive season, it is about surviving the winter months.”

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