GARDAI HAVE issued a warning to pubs and restaurants that allowing takeaway alcohol to be consumed in new outdoor seating areas may be a breach of Covid regulations.
Establishments across Ireland have been busy during lockdown building these temporary structures on street or footpaths close to their venues as a means of adjusting to the new normal of live with the coronavirus.
However, Gardaí have now warned these structures may not actually be covered under the terms of their respective alcohol licences.
Worse still, if they continue to do so, they will be in breach of the law.
The Restaurants Association of Ireland is among those calling for the issue to be clarified.
Under the current terms of the amended Health Act 1947 “outlets selling food or beverages are currently restricted to business on a takeaway basis or for consumption off the premises.”
"Licenses to sell alcohol are issued by the District Court,” Gardai explained in a statement.
“The application for a licence to sell alcohol is accompanied by the lodgement of inter alia a site plan highlighting the specified area to which the licence will apply.
“The licensee is licensed to sell intoxicating liquor to a person to consume the alcohol within that highlighted area only, any other sales are on a takeaway basis only.”
The statement continues: "The management of local public spaces is primarily a matter for the relevant local authority.
“Local authorities may provide permission for additional seating space outside of licensed premises, but these spaces are not covered for the consumption of alcohol by the licence issued by the District Court.
"Local Authority bye-laws have been passed in many local authority areas, which restrict the consumption of alcohol in public spaces in general terms.
"Where crowds gather, An Garda Síochána responsibility is preserving public order and preventing and investigating any criminal offence which occurs.
“As public health regulations continue to be reduced and activity begins to normalise, An Garda Síochána continues to remind the public of the ongoing public health guidelines, which include not to gather in large groups, maintain social distancing and wearing of face coverings in crowded public spaces."
The statement follows another weekend of unrest in Dublin with large groups of youths involved in running battles and anti-social behaviour.