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Calls to increase pub time limit to two hours

Restaurants and cafes can reopen – as well as pubs and bars which operate as restaurants – from June 29.

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Bar owner Donal O’Gorman and barman Mark Ennis fit social distancing partitions in O’Gorman’s pub in Portlaoise (Niall Carson/PA)

Bar owner Donal O’Gorman and barman Mark Ennis fit social distancing partitions in O’Gorman’s pub in Portlaoise (Niall Carson/PA)

Bar owner Donal O’Gorman and barman Mark Ennis fit social distancing partitions in O’Gorman’s pub in Portlaoise (Niall Carson/PA)

Publicans have called for the proposed time limit of 90 minutes for customers in restaurants and pubs to be increased to two hours.

It comes as health officials suggest the two metre social distancing rule can be relaxed to one metre if customers stay no longer than 90 minutes.

Restaurants and cafes can reopen – as well as pubs and bars which operate as restaurants – from June 29.

Publicans are spending tens of thousands of euro making changes to pubs ahead of the reopening.

Many are being redesigned and adapted to ensure they follow social distancing rules.

Publican Donal O’Gorman said it will be too difficult to enforce.

The pub has been redesigned to make it as friendly as possible for staff and people.Donal O'Gorman

He said: “The 90 minute rule is not a long time in a bar especially when everyone has to go in for food now.

“It’s not very fair when people come in and spend all that money and then have to leave after 90 minutes.

“It would be better if they allowed people in for two hours.”

Mr O’Gorman, who owns O’Gormans bar and restaurant and the Bog Road in Portlaoise, has spent more than 50,000 euro making changing to both pubs.

He explained: “We have put in a red light/green light system for the bathrooms so when three people are in the bathroom the red light comes on and everyone in the pub can see it.

“We have put in partitions between the tables so everyone is two metres apart and will be in little booths. They are all timber partitions as I think this will be around for a few years.

“We are going to have 60% capacity compared to what we did have.

“The pub has been redesigned to make it as friendly as possible for staff and people.

“It’s been difficult enough as we had to make many changes.

“I understand that some bars won’t reopen under the government rules as the social distancing is too hard. Customers will be sceptical of the whole situation and whether it’s safe but all we can do is make it as safe as we can.

“We are all anxious to get back to work.”

PA