Tanaiste Leo Varadkar is advising city and town councils to plan for increased café seating ahead of an “outdoor summer.”
The Fine Gael TD is encouraging local authorities to “do what they can” for local restaurants and cafés by supporting outdoor seating this summer.
It’s hoped that lockdown measures will ease in the second half of the year.
Chair of the NPHET epidemiological modelling advisory group, Philip Nolan, has previously said that “we’re looking at an outdoor summer” in 2021.
And outdoor dining is expected to return before pubs, cafés and restaurants can open more fully.
Restaurants and cafés are calling on local councils to show some leeway when it comes to applying for planning permission for outdoor seating, awnings and heaters.
This will be vital if they are to remain open during the COVID pandemic.
Varadkar told The Journal: “Hopefully, if we all continue to do what we’re doing and we bring the level of the virus down, we will be able to ease restrictions enough during the summer period to allow some small gatherings occur.
“If conditions are met and if we are in a position to ease restrictions, I would definitely be encouraging all local authorities to do what they can for their local businesses.
“We know outdoor retail and outdoor seating is safer to indoor, however I understand too that councils need to take into account the need for space for pedestrians, wheelchair users and buggies when making these decisions.
“So I would hope that a balance can be struck on what works best for each local area.”
Last year, Dublin City Council permitted restaurants, cafés and pubs seeking to serve food outside (when permitted under health measures) as long as a number of conditions were met.
At the time, the council said that “in an effort to support businesses”, the measures would be implemented immediately.
Streets in Dublin that allowed for outdoor dining in 2020 include South Anne Street, Duke Street, South William Street, Drury Street and Dame Court.
Businesses were permitted to serve on the likes of public footpaths, designated car parking spaces or other areas of the public domain under the control of the council.
The Tanaiste is hoping that councils will allow for similar set-ups this year.
Yesterday, the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) confirmed that they have written to the Government to ask them to reconsider a 15-person outdoor dining limit that was in place last year.
Source: Dublin News