Large parts of the hospitality sector across the country have reopened following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

The Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) has appealed to the proprietors of restaurants, cafes and pubs serving food to abide by the public health guidelines over the coming weeks as they resume trading.

Under those rules, indoor and outdoor dining can begin again once a substantial meal worth at least €9 is being served to each customer.

However, those meals will have to be prepared on site inside the premises.

Pre-booking is required where a distance of two metres between tables cannot be maintained.

A maximum limit of six people will be able to sit at each table and they can all be from different households.

Their time there will be limited to one hour and 45 minutes though, unless the tables are spaced two metres or more apart.

Multiple table bookings for the same group will not be allowed, ruling out the holding of Christmas parties or events.

One member of each party will still have to give their name and contact details for potential contact tracing if required.

No live music or loud music will be permitted, nor will live performances.

Venues that are serving food and beverages will have to be cleared of all customers by 11.30pm and nightclubs and discos will remain shut.

Strict cleaning and hygiene protocols will also have to be in place and adhered to.

Hotels can also open their restaurants up to non-residents under the same rules as gastropubs, cafes and other restaurants.

However, the ban on inter-county travel, which remains in place until 18 December, means those customers can only be from within the locality, something hoteliers are frustrated about.

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So called wet pubs that do not serve food will remain closed, but can continue to offer delivery and takeaway services.

Outdoor dining at a pub in Dublin (File photo,

"We encourage all of our members and the entire hospitality industry to follow the guidelines to protect staff and customers and to ensure a safe and prosperous Christmas trading period," said Adrian Cummins, CEO of the RAI.

"For the safety of everyone and for the good reputation of the sector and the businesses that have worked hard and waited to reopen, I implore on all operators to do the right thing, follow the public health advice and implement the guidelines."

Mr Cummins also appealed to customers to bear with the sector as proprietors seek to make a safe and hospitable environment.

"Please be understanding when it comes to safety procedures that you will be asked to follow, including wearing a mask when not seated, using hand sanitiser, providing details for contact tracing and booking for no more than six people," he said.

"This is for the safety of all guests and staff."

The hospitality industry is hoping it can recover some lost ground in the coming weeks by reopening in time for the busy Christmas season.

Not all establishments will reopen though, with some afraid that they will be forced to close again in a few weeks' time if Covid-19 case numbers rise.

Others felt they did not have sufficient notice from the Government or a long enough run-in period to get prepared and therefore felt it would not be worth their while.

Drinks Ireland is encouraging people to act respectfully when returning to their favourite pubs, bars and restaurants this weekend and beyond, as certain venues across the country reopen from today.

Drinks Ireland represents Irish drinks producers and distributors and today relaunched its "#BeSound" campaign.

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The campaign encourages consumers to respect the guidelines as set out by individual venues, respect the staff by being patient and cooperative and respect each other to ensure the experience is safe and enjoyable for everyone.

Drinks Ireland said that while this is an exciting time for many business owners around the country, it criticised the Government's decision not to allow pubs that do not serve food to reopen. 

Patricia Callan, Director of Drinks Ireland, said that businesses in the hospitality and experience sector are regulated environments and have proven to be responsible players throughout the crisis. 

"We believe they will offer a safe place for people to socialise responsibly this Christmas season and beyond," Ms Callan said. 

She said the decision to keep pubs that do not serve food closed is not based on sufficient evidence. 

"In Ireland, just 0.3% of Covid-19 outbreaks have been linked to pubs to date, according to the HSE/HPSC's epidemiological data. These pubs should have been given the opportunity to reopen in a safe and sustained manner," she added.

Speaking this afternoon, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that 150,000 people will be back to work as a result of the easing of restrictions this week.

He said there were always going to be limits to the degree in which the Government could place severe restrictions on people.

He added that personal and collective responsibility will be central to making sure the reopening of businesses and society is done safely in the coming weeks.