The Future of Irish Pubs

The government’s plan for the future of Irish pubs was distributed to publicans on Sunday morning ahead of the publication of its medium-term plan as to how the country is to “Live with Covid-19”.

This radical plan will for the foreseeable future alter the way in which pubs of all kinds, dry and wet, operate in the world of Covid-19.

Below is 25-page plan and are the main elements for pub owners and customers to abide by when they re-open. Overall, the document puts a strong emphasis on social distancing.

Pubs as Controlled Environments:

The plan says that public and private venues or workplaces are considered “controlled environments”.

This includes food and consumption businesses such as restaurants, cafés and pubs and bars.

“Uncontrolled environments are settings where people have open access to the premises and generally don’t know each other and are unlikely to be in close contact with each other for an extended period. Examples include supermarkets, retail stores, shopping malls and takeaway-only food outlets,” the document states.

Staff welfare:

Each workplace should appoint at least one lead worker representative charged with ensuring that Covid-19 measures are strictly adhered to in their workplace. For more information on this read our COVID19 Response Plan blog.

Physical Distancing:

The plan makes clear that a separation of 2 metres between tables is required but this can be reduced to 1 metre if additional steps are taken.

Staff should remain 1 metre apart where possible. No more than 6 people can be located any one table and they must not come from more than 3 different households. This applies to pre-bookings and walk ins.

“Face coverings must be worn by all employees in customer facing roles, unless there is a protective screen in place,” the document states.


Table Service/Managing Numbers:

  • The document states that pubs will operate with table service only, and no counter service allowed. The amount of seating in a venue must be reduced to ensure adequate spacing.
  • “Tables, seating and couches in public areas and other physical layouts must be rearranged to ensure appropriate distancing,” the document states.
  • The plan will separate out late bars and nightclubs with no customers allowed on the premises after 11:30pm.
  • Face coverings should also be worn by customers when arriving to and leaving their table in the pub.
  • Strict queuing systems for toilets and a limit on the number of users must be enforced to ensure physical distancing.
  • All pubs are being asked to develop an ‘action plan’ for reopening.
  • Use of cash is discouraged, with customers asked to use card/contactless payments where possible.
  • Pubs are asked to use vertical signage to direct customers to facilitate movement within the premises while maintaining 2 metre distance.
  • Customers should be seated at a table except when using the toilet, paying, and departing.
  • There is a limit of on the number of people gathering in a venue at one time – in line with NPHET guidance on indoor gatherings.

For more information on government guidelines please click here.

We wish all our clients and pubs across Ireland the best of luck as they reopen their doors today.