Fáilte Ireland has published its much-awaited sector specific operational guidelines for the tourism industry to ensure the safe re-opening of tourism businesses on 29th June.

The guidelines do not cover pubs – the guidance being that pubs wishing to reopen on 29th June must operate as a restaurant.  Specific bar guidelines will be published at a later date.

The Fáilte Ireland guidelines offer detailed advice on the systems that should be implemented to help instil public confidence and reboot business while adhering to public health advice and Government protocols.

The guidelines build on the work safety protocols released late last May by the Government.

Areas covered in the booklets include physical distancing, distribution of PPE, employee responsibilities, supplier deliveries, and employee and customer safety and will be a living document as public health guidance changes over the coming weeks.

The measures have been broadly welcomed by all industry sectors, however the inclusion of 2 metre social distancing rules remains a significant roadblock for many operators.

The guide states: “Guests must be advised to stand 2 metres* away from other groups of people who are not travelling with them while standing in lines, using elevators, stairs or moving around the restaurant.”

The document then notes: “*The 2m physical distancing guidance is in line with current Public Health advice. This document will evolve to reflect new Public Health advice and changes to protocols as and when they emerge.”

Table service in restaurants and at functions in particular will look radically different.  Bar snacks and finger food will no longer be shared and instead will be served in individual portions.  It is unknown how this will impact on tapas restaurants.

Tableside cooking, a staple of fine dining restaurants, is only allowable if social distancing can be maintained – making it a virtual impossibility.

The days of the buffet breakfast appear to be over for now, as the guidelines state that, where food is served buffet style, “Aall items displayed for guest use must be individually wrapped or be a single serve item. Common tongs or ladles must not be used and neither must common distribution containers from which guests help themselves.”

There is uncertainty regarding how servers should take orders and whether screens between customers is necessary when tables are already the regulation length apart.

It is also unclear how functions where guests mingle can operate on a practical level – currently, the document states “Employees must monitor and manage distancing”.

Jenny De Saulles, Director of Sector Development at Fáilte Ireland, said: “We have worked closely with a number of industry groups and an infection control expert to develop these operational guidelines that will equip tourism and hospitality businesses with the necessary information and advice to enable them to re-open safely while also helping to instil public confidence. Our consumer tracker research is finding that health and safety protocols in premises and ‘safe breaks’ are emerging as strong themes as people plan their domestic holiday.”

The full documentation can be found on the Fáilte Ireland website.

The full documentation can be found on the Fáilte Ireland website.
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