A DATE has been proposed for the return of indoor dining in pubs and restaurants in Ireland.
Padraig Cribben, Chief Executive of Vintners' Federation of Ireland, believes pubs should be welcoming customers inside from July 1.
He believes that with Ireland’s mass vaccination programme continuing apace, the risks associated with indoor drinking and dining should be significantly reduced.
Speaking to Newtalk, Cribben urged the government to move forward with plans for the reopening of venues from July 1 with many businesses closed for the past 15 months and an estimated 50,000 out of work.
"If you look at what has happened elsewhere in Europe - particularly across the border and across the water in England - the opening of indoor came about three weeks after the opening of outdoor. If outdoor is opening on June 7, which is the plan, then the natural opening days is on or before July 1.
"It's also important to say that, on that date, all of the schools will be closed and people will be beginning their staycations. It's a pretty natural time in that context.”
He also expressed confidence that the continued vaccine rollout would ensure a return to indoor dining and service is a safe one.
He said: "I think the big thing that will have changed in three weeks is that approximately an additional million people will be vaccinated.
"The Government have said that by the end of June, they expect to have about 82% of the population having a first vaccination and those three weeks is important in that context.
"It's also important in the context of the viability of businesses because every day counts from the point of view of viability for all businesses and for the people employed by them, and while we would appreciate and maintain that public health is paramount, we do believe that in the context of the level of vaccination in the context of what we have seen both North and the border that reopening is safe."
Cribben warned that half of Ireland’s pubs could remain closed despite plans for the reopening on June 7 due to a lack of outdoor space – a situation that makes the return of indoor service all the more essential.
He said: "I think there are two things, there certainly will be around about half that are still closed. But the ones that are open, they will be open on a considerably reduced basis and in many of those, it's more to be open than actually to be viable."