The Government is to encourage local authorities to allow pubs with no indoor space to expand onto pavements, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said.
He said he was “very much” encouraging city councils and county councils to use the outdoor space. This is a good opportunity to reimagine our streets and have it used for the public for outdoor dining and outdoor drinking and not so much for cars, he said.
Confirming that outdoor drinking will return on June 7, Mr Varadkar said it is intended that indoor dining and drinking will return in July.
“On June 7, we'll see outdoor dining and outdoor drinking resumed, and all things going to plan, indoor in July,” he said.
What we've done in the revised plan is, we've ended the distinction between wet pubs and gastropubs, let's never hear the term 'wet pub' again, that's gone and outdoor drinking and dining won't be limited to 15, there'll be no requirement of a substantial meal either.”
He made clear the previous requirement for customers to have a €9 meal has been eliminated and dining tables will be spaced between 1m or 1.5m apart as opposed to 2m.
Speaking at a virtual conference for publicans, Mr Varadkar said customers will not be able to sit at the bar and will be limited to table service and while pubs will not be limited to 15 people, operating at full capacity is not likely either.
Mr Varadkar made clear the reduced VAT rate of 9% will stay in place, at least until the end of the year and hopefully a bit longer when unit pricing will come into place in January.
He said customers should be able to use the toilets indoors even if they are seated outdoors.
Mr Varadkar said the pub sector can expect some “special help” from the Government, given what it has had to endure.