One of the cornerstones of Irish society is communal gatherings in a public house.
TV shows and plays have been written about the experience and tourists flock to them when they are in the country.
A mix of music, craic and social engagement.
But it’s very clear in the aftermath of coronavirus those days are gone and for how long, no-one knows.
Something else thats very clear is the public health guidance for pub owners planning to re-open is likely to make many wonder if it’s worth the effort.
Failte Ireland has published it’s determination on how pubs can safely re-open which can be accessed here.
Ireland’s tourism authority 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 the cconcerns of the industry, were addressed.
Amongst the notable aspects:
1. Proposed 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.
2. 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.
Where 2 metre physical distancing is not possible, businesses are now permitted to implement 1 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.”
While the guidance is subject to change, for publicans and customers alike key aspects in the ‘new normal’ include:
- Customers should be seated at a table except when using the toilet, paying and departing.
- Where at all practical, workers should provide services to only 1 gathering and should not move between multiple gatherings in different venue locations (e.g. two different function rooms).
- Where possible, facilities such as toilets should not be used simultaneously by multiple gatherings. However if they are cleaned in between usage, they may be used separately by different gatherings, within the same time period
Between staff training, new signage and policing of some of these measures the business owners running costs will substantially increase making many wonder if it’s wortwhile re-opening at all.
Then there’s the suggestion that a ‘substantial meal’ will need to be served of a kind for which it would be reasonable to charge no less than €9.
None of that would work for rural pubs or premises who don’s serve food.
Looks like another night in😢