The Government has confirmed that all hospitality businesses can reopen for indoor services from 5th July.

Speaking at Government Buildings on Friday evening, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said: “This is an important time for us all. After the trauma of the last fifteen months we are finally taking definite steps towards enjoying normal times with friends and loved ones again. We’re almost back to a point where we can just enjoy the ordinary extraordinary moments in our lives. The sense of hope, excitement, and relief is palpable.”

The new plan includes outlines for allowing fans at sporting fixtures and live events. The Taoiseach also said a new grant scheme would be introduced for pubs and bars and the events sector.

The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) has welcomed confirmation, saying it will mark the official beginning of the recovery for pubs and hospitality.

The announcement means that pubs will be able to admit customers back into their premises after 476 consecutive days of closure.

The LVA also noted that while the confirmation of the reopening for indoor service was vital, the publication of the National Economic Recovery Plan will also be extremely important for the recovery of the hospitality sector.

The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) has welcomed the announcement, while also calling for the removal of the 105-minute time limit from the guidelines.

“We are pleased to have finally received confirmation that all pubs will be able to reopen for indoor service from 5th July,” said Donall O’Keeffe, Chief Executive of the LVA. “It has been a long time coming, but this is a time for hope and optimism. The 5th July will mark the beginning of the recovery for pubs and other hospitality businesses. Many pubs will not be in a position to offer outdoor service, so confirmation of the date for reopening indoors was vital. Everyone in our sector will now be counting down the days until the 5th July.

“It is extremely important that all pubs, food and traditional, will now be able to open together. We are absolutely delighted that the Government has taken this on board and that there will be no further divisions in our industry. Our members are all simply ‘pubs’ once again. Hopefully no one will ever have the need to use the term ‘wet pubs’ in future. We also outlined to Government that it was important for our sector that outdoor capacity should be dictated by social distancing requirements, so we are glad to see that has been reflected in the guidelines.

“Obviously the 5th July will now mark a major milestone for our sector, but it really is the beginning of a process. We will also be working with the Government in the coming weeks and months to discuss the easing of the restrictions on our trade as the vaccine rollout progresses and the public health situation improves,” Mr. O’Keeffe concluded.

VFI Chief Executive, Padraig Cribben, said: “Reopening in time for the traditional summer season is a big boost to the trade who can now plan with confidence for a busy July and August. However, there are only nine weekends in that short season so to remove one of those crucial weekends by reopening on a Monday is a blow the Government can avoid by simply moving the date forward by four days to 1st July. It would be a small concession with a big impact.

“In many ways, the announcement of a reopening date is only the beginning of the end of the crisis for the pub trade as we face an uncertain future where rebuilding consumer confidence and working within social distancing guidelines will be tough challenges. Supports will continue to play a vital role and we look forward to the announcement of further measures for the trade next week.”

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