RESTAURANTS and pubs that are able to serve food to their customers are set to open their doors on Friday, December 4.
As Ireland approaches the end of lockdown, the country begins to prepare to open up again, and while Level Five restrictions will officially be dropped on December 1, it will take a few days - and in some cases a few weeks - before a substantial easing of the rules takes place.
Restaurants and gastropubs will be allowed to reopen next month, but 'wet' pubs are to remain closed in what could be a devastating blow to the sector.
Last week, several sources reported that there would be a "gradual easing" of restrictions once lockdown ends.
The retail sector is expected to open up immediately, with high-street shops and hairdressers able to enjoy the full run-up to Christmas, but hospitality businesses will have to wait a little longer.
Members of the Cabinet are set to meet with NPHET today to finalise details of the country's lockdown exit plan.
The continued decision to shackle the hospitality sector has drawn much criticism from representatives of the industry, who claim there's no evidence that Covid-19 is spread in pubs and bars any more than it's spread in shops, offices or schools.
Pubs unable to serve food have been more-or-less forced to remain closed ever since the coronavirus outbreak began in Ireland back in March.
The second lockdown, which began last month, came as a bitter blow to thousands of pubs around the country which had only just begun trading again following months of closures.
Many publicans say that unless the Government allows them to take full advantage of the run up to Christmas - what would usually be their busiest period - many of Ireland's pubs won't be able to survive.
On Wednesday, it was reported that the Government is considering only letting pubs with dedicated chefs and a kitchen to reopen, in an effort to stop pubs teaming up with restaurants and takeaways to get around the 'substantial meal' rule.