‘Great to be back’ as outdoor hospitality returns
Publicans have said it is “great to be back” as bars, cafés and restaurants reopened for outdoor service.
Bars, restaurants and cafés resumed outdoor service as part of the latest lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.
Gyms, swimming pools and leisure centres also reopened for the first time this year as part of the easing of other measures.
As a result, thousands of people across the country returned to work.
Local authorities in cities across the country, including Dublin, Cork and Galway, have pedestrianised a number of streets, along with installing additional public toilets and bins as part of efforts to facilitate an outdoor focused summer.
However, people are still being urged to continue adhering to the public health guidelines such as social distancing and avoiding crowds.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said it was a “very significant day for pubs and restaurants”.
In a video posted on Twitter, he said this “illustrates the continuing progress” being made to reopen society and the Irish economy.
Michael O’Sullivan, one of the owners of Clancy’s Bar on Princes Street in Cork, told RTÉ’s News at One that “it’s what we do best, hosting and dining and entertaining people, it’s lovely to have them back”.
Mr O’Sullivan said they have been very lucky that their staff members who wanted to return were able to do so.
Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys has said gardaí will engage with local authorities, businesses and community groups to ensure that the hospitality sector can re-open safely and stay open safely.
It comes in the wake of several arrests in Dublin and Cork over the weekend for public order offences connected with outdoor socialising.
“Our pubs, restaurants and cafes are the businesses which have been hit the hardest by the pandemic,” she said.
“The Government will support them in every way we can as they welcome customers back.”
The easing of measures marks the latest phase in the reopening of the economy and return of social activity.
Cinemas and theatres can reopen, as can gyms, swimming pools and leisure centres, for individual training only.
Guests attending a wedding celebration or reception can increase to 25, while the numbers permitted at organised outdoor events can increase to 100 – or a maximum of 200 – in venues with capacity for 5,000 people.
Matches can also recommence, while outdoor amusements, theme parks and funfairs can reopen.
Among the other changes include the partial resumption of driver theory test services, while an unvaccinated household can have visitors from one other unvaccinated household indoors.
Steve Barry, the manager of Dennehy’s Gyms in Cork city, said they opened at 8am and people were queuing to get in.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that it’s “a big day for us”, especially as they have just opened their fourth gym locally.
Mr Barry said they want people to enjoy the experience of coming back to the gym.
Bríd Looby, the national operations manager for Odeon cinemas, described the reopening of cinemas as a “phenomenal day” for them.
She said extra health and safety measures include limited seating for each film with unoccupied seats between different groups to meet social distancing guidelines as well as staggering screening times to reduce queues.
As restrictions ease from today, this week will also see four pilot live events take place with crowds.
The first of these is on Thursday, where 500 people will attend a concert at the Iveagh Gardens in Dublin.
Following this, three sporting events will take place on Friday.
Leinster will play Dragons at the RDS with a crowd of 1,200 people; Shamrock Rovers will play Finn Harps at Tallaght Stadium in front of 1,000 people, while Cork City will play Cabinteely at Turner’s Cross in front of 600 people.