Everywhere around the country the sound of hammering and banging and the smell of paint and sawdust has been signalling the opening of outdoor dining and drinking. Is there a restaurant, pub or hotel in the country that has not had at least a lick of paint?
In my many walks about Dublin, and other places when I could move around the country, I have been struck by the sounds of activity behind closed doors. Proprietors took the opportunity to prepare to reopen in greater and more comfortable style than ever before.
Gardens, yards and car parks have been commandeered to become Mediterranean style oases. Expect to see a lot more colour around our country as bright umbrellas and canopies appear everywhere. A huge amount of money has been invested in the return to business and to comply with the regulations.
In the end the opening date came up sooner than expected and gave a frantic last ten days to put the finishing touches to be open in time for bank holiday Monday. And to finally hear the tills ringing and cards being swiped.
The last few weeks in particular has been very stressful for premises with the news that they could reopen to the public and non-residents sooner than expected.
The day has arrived
After all that activity, the day has finally arrived and one and all can dine and drink outdoors in our favourite places. It will also be an opportunity to catch up with family and friends. Maybe some of those missed moments can finally be celebrated.
The restrictions in place from today are lighter than the last reopening. There will be no requirement for a substantial meal or time limit, and all pubs can serve drinks outdoors. Tables can have up to six adults and teenagers. Children up to 12 can be extra for families, up to nine extra.
There will only be table service and there must be one metre between each. Masks must be worn until you sit down and on visits to the toilets. No group bookings will be allowed, so no circumventing the regulations. There will be no live music and mind the shouting. All pubs and restaurants must be closed by 11.30pm.
This is a request to anyone who has booked multiple venues, please choose one and cancel the other reservations you are holding. Every empty table in a restaurant or pub represents lost revenue in this tough year.
To all our friends in the hospitality business reopening today, welcome back – we missed you.
Editor – ITTN Ireland