Ireland has announced a slight relaxation to the two metre social distancing rules in pubs ahead of the 29 June reopening date.
Over the last 24 hours Fáilte Ireland said it has been engaged in “intensive discussions” with officials from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport following guidance from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) for food service businesses to ensure some of our concerns, and that of the industry, were addressed.
It added it has advocated on behalf of the industry for the changes outlined below, which have now been accepted by the HPSC:
- Seating time has changed from 90 minutes to 105 minutes with an additional 15 minutes between bookings (2 hours in total). The 15 minutes has been added to allow for adequate cleaning and to ensure customers leave and enter without mixing.
- Contact tracing: Businesses will now be required to collect the contact information of just the party lead. Previously, the original HPSC guidance stated that this should be collected for the full group.
In addition, where two metre physical distancing is not possible, businesses are now permitted to implement a one metre physical distancing in controlled environments provided other risk mitigation requirements have been met and pre-booked time slots are in place.
Paul Kelly, CEO of Fáilte Ireland, said: “These guidelines are intended to provide clarity to businesses so that they can reopen safely on June 29th. I would like to thank my team and officials from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport who have been working tirelessly on ensuring these guidelines are practical while adhering to public health advice.”
According to research by the BBPA, the current position will mean that only a third (12,500) of England’s pubs will be able to re-open, which could leave up to 25,000 pubs closed with “major concerns over when, if ever, they will be able to reopen”.
Under one metre social distancing guidelines, 75% (28,000) of England’s pubs would be able to re-open.