Covid-19: Pubs permitted to impose one-metre distance in some cases, new guidance says

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Fáilte Ireland has this evening published guidelines for the reopening of pubs.

Updated Wed 10:30 PM

PUBS MAY BE permitted to impose one-metre social distancing in some cases if a two-metre distance is not possible, new guidance says.

As pubs prepare to reopen on 29 June, a final report by Fáilte Ireland has confirmed that where two-metre physical distancing is not possible, businesses will be permitted to implement one-metre distancing in controlled environments provided other risk mitigation requirements have been met and pre-booked time slots are in place.

“Customers must be advised to stand at least two metres away from other groups of people who are not from the same household, at all times,” the guidelines say. 

“In a controlled environment, such as pubs, bars, gastropubs, restaurants and cafes, physical distancing of at least two metres is required, unless the requirements outlined [in the document]have been met, in which case a minimum of one-metre is sufficient.”

It also outlines that as far as reasonably possible, a distance of two metres and a minimum of one metre should be maintained between employees. Where two metres is not possible, all other measures to protect employees should be in place. 

Tables, seating and couches in public areas and other physical layouts must be rearranged to ensure appropriate distancing. 

Businesses will be required to use floor markings inside the premises to facilitate compliance with the physical distancing advice of two metres, particularly in the most crowded areas. 

A designated employee should be stationed at front of house to control physical distancing measures, the guidelines say. 

“It is the responsibility of supervisors and managers to ensure that customers do not congregate in groups. Customers should be seated at a table except when using the toilet, paying and departing.”

The guidelines also confirm that pubs will be expected to serve “substantial meals” that cost at least €9.

This €9 requirement will only be in place for three weeks until 20 July, when pubs that don’t serve food are allowed reopen. 

The tourism body made it clear today the €9 spending guideline is based on the 1962 Intoxicating Liquor, that states a “substantial” plate of food is one which you’d expect to be served as a main midday or evening meal. 

Fáilte Ireland based the measures on draft guidance from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) to safely reopen the sector. 

Other guidelines

Fáilte Ireland said that over the past 24 hours it has engaged in intensive discussions with officials from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport following guidance from the HPSC to ensure some of its concerns, and that of the industry, were addressed. 

The tourism advocated on behalf of the industry for the following changes, 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.
  • 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. Details must be securely retained for one month.
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It is outlined that the frequency of cleaning and disinfection of public spaces and communal areas must be increased to at least twice daily. 

Particular attention must be paid to frequently touched surfaces, which must be visibly clean at all times. These include counters, door handles, public bathrooms, stair handrails, dining surfaces and seating areas. 

The back of house must also be cleaned and disinfected at least twice daily. 

The guidelines outline that self-service carvery/buffets must only be provided where physical distancing and other public health advice can be followed. 

A document containing further information and the full guidelines can be found here. 

The guidelines, which will be circulated to publicans, give clarity on how pubs can reopen at the end of this month.  

With reporting by Christina Finn

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