© Mark Condren
Restaurant Association of Ireland chief Adrian Cummins said halving the physical distancing rule would be a "game changer" for the industry.
Pubs and restaurants will be allowed to reduce social distancing to one metre if they limit patrons to just 90 minutes inside their premises, the Irish Independent can reveal.

Fáilte Ireland has said today they are pushing for this to be increased to at least two hours.

Comment: One shouldn't indulge the madness.

The organisation has indicated that guidelines for hospitality venues to be issued ahead of the next phase of reopening Ireland on June 29 will include a reduced physical distancing threshold "in certain circumstances".

Tara Kerry, registrar and accommodation development manager with Fáilte Ireland, said told RTÉ Radio One today: "That is in the document and it is one of the things that we are seeking clarity on because we don't know what 90 minutes has been founded on so we are advocating that that goes to two hour at the minimum.

"We're having some very good discussion around these and hopefully this afternoon we'll have some clarity on that."

The move to allow more people inside venues will be hugely welcomed by the hospitality sector but the Irish Independent understands that in exchange pubs must enforce time limits on customers.

Sources say that pub-goers and diners will be expected to leave after just 90 minutes. As part of the guidelines restaurants must reduce or stop the practice of allowing 'walk-ins'.

A decision that only pubs serving food should reopen this month has caused some confusion. But it has been clarified that in order to reopen in the short-term, pubs must serve food "a main midday or evening meal" that costs at least €9.

A source said: "This will be complicated but in essence we are not talking about a ham and cheese toastie. It must be a proper meal."

Comment: Oh, that makes much more sense.

The guidelines on 'walk-ins' and pre-bookings could have major implications for hotels as it may see guests having to be assigned a time slot for breakfast the night before.

Tourism chiefs are in talks with the Health Protection Surveillance Centre and the Department of Transport and Tourism about a document entitled 'Covid-19: Guidance for Food Service Businesses.'

Fáilte Ireland said it would provide "detailed guidance aimed at the safe reopening of food service businesses, including pubs that serve food" in the coming days.

"The guidelines refer to various measures and arrangements, including a potential reduction of the current two-metre physical distancing restriction to one metre in certain circumstances."

Restaurant Association of Ireland chief Adrian Cummins said halving the physical distancing rule would be a "game changer" for the industry.

The handbook for reopening will apply to all pubs, gastro pubs and bars.

Any food offering will be required to be a substantial meal as defined by the Intoxicating Liquor Act 1962.

The law states that "the meal is such as might be expected to be served as a main midday or evening meal or as a main course in either such meal".

According to Fáilte Ireland the meal should be of a quality for which it would be reasonable to charge not less than €9.

This stipulation is likely to result in many pubs that had planned to reopen with a very limited menu now having to remain closed into July.

Comment: After the lockdown it's likely many establishments will never reopen, and instead go bankrupt - and all for a virus that has been repeatedly stated to be harmless to the vast majority.

Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan previously said that he expects the first batch of pubs to open will operate like a restaurant.

Meanwhile, the GAA has confirmed Cúl camps will go ahead from July 20 in phase four of the Government's easing of restrictions for the Covid-19 emergency.

It comes as outdoor gatherings of up to 5,000 people could be allowed from September, with cinemas reopening in August.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said:"If things continue to go in the right direction, if the virus stays suppressed, you could see some smaller outdoor mass gatherings in September. Maybe 3,000 or 4,000, 5,000, but unlikely to be more than that."