INDOOR dining and drinking returned this morning as further Covid-19 restrictions are eased.
Many hospitality businesses across Limerick opened for the first time this calendar year, having not had the facilities to trade outdoors up to now.
Opening later this week will be the Still House in Thomas Street, which like many other pubs and restaurants will be following the guidelines issued by government over the weekend.
Upon entering a pub, all customers will have to show photo identification at the door of a bar or restaurant, along with their Covid certificate to prove they have been vaccinated or recovered from the virus.
All customers are also required to give their name and phone number for contact tracing purposes, with two information sheets at the door: One for contact tracing and a second list where they will tick a box to show that all customers at each table have been checked for their vaccination or recovery status.
Staff will be posted at entrances to premises across the city, with a digital scanner used to check a person’s status. This scanner will be able to be downloaded to a staff member's phone or device.
Jason Kelly of the Still House admits he does not agree with the stance, but is “caught between a rock and a hard place”.
“I don’t agree with the new policy, it’s discrimination. But it’s discrimination against the younger people. However, if I don’t open up, then you are discriminating against the people who isolated as well,” he explained, “I want to open up for my older guys sitting at home who couldn’t go out and socially distance.”
He acknowledges the first few days of trading could prove difficult, and appealed to people to be patient with staff as they get up to the speed with these new rules.
Unlike other pubs which did not have outdoor facilities, the Still House will be able to open outside for unvaccinated people.
It was only the work on the revitalisation of O’Connell Street which prevented it opening sooner, Mr Kelly said.
Nationally, the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) said more than 3,000 pubs will re-open today, with 25,000 staff heading back to work.
The chief executive of the VFI Padraig Cribben said: "It’s a big day for the trade especially when you consider some of our members were closed for over 16 months. Unfortunately, the new guidelines government handed down to us will make it very difficult for publicans and staff to manage their indoor businesses. Our message to customers is simple: ‘please work with us as we get used to these new guidelines’.
He described the new guidelines as "onerous and cumbersome", however.,
"Pubs will have to record the personal details of every person entering the venue while keeping a separate, anonymous, record that confirms vaccine passes have been checked. It’s not a practical system for business owners to operate so we’re asking people to be patient, cooperate and please remember that publicans and their staff are only doing their job," he added.
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