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Varadkar confirms pub and restaurant rules around time limits will be reviewed in a ‘few weeks’

Erik G

TÁNAISTE LEO VARADKAR has confirmed that the government will review the new Failte Ireland guidelines for pubs and restaurants “in a few weeks time”. 

Yesterday, after the guidelines were released, The Journal reported that the government was open to easing the rules further as the summer progresses and the vaccine roll out ramps up. 

Over the course of Wednesday, there was fury from TDs both inside and outside government, as well from those in the industry, who questioned the 11.30 pm curfew, the ban on live music, and in particular, the 105-minute time limit earmarked to be in place for indoor dining where there is social distancing of just one metre between tables.

The issue was raised with the Tánaiste this afternoon in Leaders’ Questions with Sinn Féin’s Imelda Munster stating that the rules were “illogical and unfair”, calling on Varadkar to scrap the time limit rule.

The Tánaiste said the time limit rule is there to prevent diners that are in the same dining room for longer than two hours being considered close contacts. 

He said the rules are “more liberal” than they were last year, but said the guidelines announced yesterday “are not the final word on this”. 

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The rules can be reviewed in a few weeks time, he said.

He explained that the rules for indoor dining in hotels are different (there is no time limit) as the restaurants should only be open to residents that are staying in the hotel. 

The hotel restaurant should not be open for people outside. If they find that people not staying in the hotel are dining in the restaurant, then the rules “may need to aligned if they do that”.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One, Sinn Féin Health spokesperson David Cullinane said restaurants should be trusted now rather than putting rules in place that just won’t work.

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