COVID-19 - Fáilte Ireland Updates the Reopening Guidelines for the Hospitality Sector following nationwide move to Level 3

Fáilte Ireland Issues Updated Guidelines for Restaurants, Pubs and Hotels

On Friday 4 December 2020, restaurants, hotels and pubs (serving food) countrywide will reopen for the first time in seven weeks. The Government announced a national phased move to Level 3 of the Plan for Living with COVID-19 (with variations).

Under the new measures, the hospitality sector will be permitted to reopen with additional measures in place. In light of this, Fáilte Ireland has updated its Guidelines for Pubs, Guidelines for Restaurants and Cafés, and Guidelines for Hotels and Guesthouses (“the Guidelines”).

From 4 December 2020:

• Restaurants and pubs operating as restaurants can open for indoor and outdoor dining with additional measures, including a maximum of 6 people per table whether seated indoor or outdoor. The Guidelines do not provide for a limit on the number of households permitted at the table of 6.

• Hotels restaurant can open to non-residents, with additional restrictions.

• Wet pubs remain closed, with only delivery and takeaway services permitted.

Fáilte Ireland Issues Updated Guidelines
The updated Guidelines issued by Fáilte Ireland contain some new measures that include but are not limited to:

Bookings: Where physical distancing of 2 metres is maintained between tables, there is no requirement for pre booked time slots or a limitation on the duration of time spent, although bookings should be encouraged rather than walk-ins.

Where physical distancing has been reduced to 1 metre, customers must pre book a time limited slot, up to a maximum of 105 minutes.

The Guidelines also state that parties cannot book multiple tables as an aid to prevent any work parties/social gatherings including Christmas office parties.

Food Preparation Areas: Where food is served, it must have been “substantially prepared on the premises” in a food preparation area. A food preparation area is defined as an indoor part of the premises which is structurally adapted and used for the purpose of preparing food for consumption by members of the public on or off the premises and, for the avoidance of doubt, does not include a tent, caravan, vehicle, storage container or other temporary structure. As a result, any premises who were deploying the services of outside sources or set up temporary cooking facilities outside will not be permitted under the updated guidelines.

Record of Substantial Meals: Any business supplying intoxicating liquor for consumption on the premises must keep and maintain a record of the substantial meals ordered by each individual. On the 1 December, the Health Minister brought in Regulations stating that these records must be made available to An Garda Síochána and the HSE for a period of 28 days. The Regulations also state that these records must be permanently deleted no later than 28 days after the information is collected. This puts an onus on businesses to have a strict monitoring system, as all information must be kept for 28 days to allow for inspection but must also be permanently deleted on the 28th day the data is held.

External Smoking Areas: The maximum capacity for such areas is 15 people, however these 15 people must also be compliance with the recommended physical distancing requirements. It is important to note, that, the number of persons permitted in the area is not dependent on the size of the smoking area, regardless of how big the area is, the maximum number of persons is limited to 15 people.

Controlled Noise Levels: Businesses are responsible for implementing noise control measures so that people do not have to raise their voices or move closer to each other to hear one another. Businesses must display signs to inform customers and intervene where measures are not being followed. Unlike previous guidelines, there is now a ban on any live music performances or loud music.

Face Coverings: Face masks should be worn by customers at all times other than when sitting at their table.

Ventilation: Operational practices should factor in the importance of ensuring sufficient air circulation. Where it is possible, doors and windows should be opened regularly to ensure airflow.

HSE COVID-19 Tracker App: Employers should provide advice on, and encourage employees to download, the app.

Contact Details of Health Authorities: The reception desk for each business should have the telephone numbers of the health authorities available in the event that an employee or customer falls ill.

The full Guidelines are available on the COVID-19 Support Hub on Fáilte Ireland’s website. It is important to read these Guidelines carefully and in full as they relate to your business.

Compton Solicitors will continue to update this page with the latest information and developments, as they become available.

This document is intended to provide a general overview and guidance on a particular topic. It is provided wholly without any liability or responsibility on the part of Compton Solicitors and does not replace the necessity to obtain specific legal advice.