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Customers raise a glass as indoor dining returns across Ireland

‘We are quite excited, just very happy to reopen’, one bar manager in Dublin said.

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Peter Roche (centre) enjoys a pint with his friends as indoor dining in pubs and restaurants reopened (Damien Eagers/PA)

Peter Roche (centre) enjoys a pint with his friends as indoor dining in pubs and restaurants reopened (Damien Eagers/PA)

Peter Roche (centre) enjoys a pint with his friends as indoor dining in pubs and restaurants reopened (Damien Eagers/PA)

Bar and restaurant owners have said that the coming weeks will be a step into the unknown, as indoor hospitality reopened across Ireland.

With indoor dining now open for the fully vaccinated and those who have had Covid-19 in the last six months, bars and restaurants in Dublin city centre were expecting trade to get busier later in the week.

Most bars, cafes and restaurants reported a quiet day, with no great rush of customers waiting to return indoors.

Despite the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, some businesses in the capital opted to trade outdoors only – at least for now.

Under the system signed off by the Irish Government, a maximum of six people over the age of 13 are allowed at each table. However, the limit does not include children aged 12 or younger.

The EU Digital Covid Certificate (DCC) or the HSE Covid-19 Vaccination Record can be used for proof of vaccination status when entering pubs, restaurants, cafes or food courts.

There are no time limits on indoor dining but premises must be clear of all customers by 11.30pm.

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We closed the doors on March 14 2020 and we thought it was going to be for a couple of weeks, we didn’t think it was going to be nearly 500 days until we opened again but we are glad it’s finally hereDarren Cusack

Michael Ryan has owned the Ha’Penny Bridge Inn on the edge of Dublin’s Temple Bar for 31 years.

He said that staffing had been a real barrier to reopening his doors.

“The PUP (Pandemic Unemployment Payment) is ridiculous. We can’t get the staff back. We can’t get someone on the door checking people in, so we will have to go in and out checking it ourselves,” he said.

His staff has gone down from six to four.

“We have no cleaners – we can’t get the cleaning contractor back because they have no staff, so we are doing the cleaning ourselves,” Mr Ryan said.

“We have a bar upstairs that we spent 150,000 euro renovating before the lockdown that was never opened.”

Down the street, Luis Arias, a manager at the Elephant and Castle restaurant, was doing some last-minute cleaning.

It has been offering outdoor dining for the last two months.

“We are quite excited, just very happy to reopen,” he said.

“We are concerned for all the new rules to see how we are going to do it and making sure we follow all the rules.”

He also said that recruiting staff had been difficult.

“Staffing issues is having some impact on us. We are trying to find people but it is quite hard, it looks like everyone around is trying to find people,” he added.

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Darren Cusack, from Mulligan’s bar in Poolbeg Street in Dublin (Damien Eagers/PA)

Darren Cusack, from Mulligan’s bar in Poolbeg Street in Dublin (Damien Eagers/PA)

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Darren Cusack, from Mulligan’s bar in Poolbeg Street in Dublin (Damien Eagers/PA)

On Poolbeg Street, in the city centre, the name Mulligan’s has been over the door of the well-known Dublin pub since the 1780s.

The pub has been in the Cusack family for almost 80 years.

Darren Cusack said it was a “huge sense of relief” to open again.

“It’s been a long time coming. It’s hard to believe. We closed the doors on March 14 2020 and we thought it was going to be for a couple of weeks, we didn’t think it was going to be nearly 500 days until we opened again but we are glad it’s finally here.

“We were doing a bit of outside serving at the weekends, we only had eight tables outside. We were happy to have a few of the regulars back but now we have reopened inside this is really Mulligan’s again,” he said.

Mr Cusack thinks it could take a few weeks before trade returns to something like normality.

“We are hoping it will be busy, but it’s hard to tell. We rely on tourists and we have a good regular crowd. I think it will be September before we see offices open in town again and we need the likes of workers back in again but we have regular clientele,” he said.

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(left to right) Peter Roche, from Finglas, Dublin, enjoys a pint with his friends Jack Edwards and Archie Rutledge (Damien Eagers/PA)

(left to right) Peter Roche, from Finglas, Dublin, enjoys a pint with his friends Jack Edwards and Archie Rutledge (Damien Eagers/PA)

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(left to right) Peter Roche, from Finglas, Dublin, enjoys a pint with his friends Jack Edwards and Archie Rutledge (Damien Eagers/PA)

Peter Roche, a 76-year-old from Dublin, has been drinking in Mulligan’s for 55 years.

He was joined by friends Jack Edwards and Archie Rutledge who travelled from Texas in the US – they call Peter the “Mayor of Mulligan’s”.

Mr Roche said: “It’s absolutely fantastic to be back. It’s been absolute hell for the last year and a half. It’s been absolutely crazy, but today is a great day.

“It’s a great day for the proprietor too, it’s fantastic.

“I had a pint outside but this is the first pint inside in over a year.

“I am vaccinated and I have no concerns and I’ll do whatever has to be done. It is great to be able to get out and socialise as that is what life is about.

“This is a great establishment to meet people and the amount of people I have met over the years has been incredible.”

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Sarah Maleady enjoys lunch with her granddaughter, Rachael Hargan, in Bewley’s Cafe on Grafton Street in Dublin (Damien Eagers/PA)

Sarah Maleady enjoys lunch with her granddaughter, Rachael Hargan, in Bewley’s Cafe on Grafton Street in Dublin (Damien Eagers/PA)

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Sarah Maleady enjoys lunch with her granddaughter, Rachael Hargan, in Bewley’s Cafe on Grafton Street in Dublin (Damien Eagers/PA)

On Grafton Street, many shoppers were enjoying being able to sit inside the city’s famous Bewley’s cafe.

Sarah Maleady, from Glasnevin, and her granddaughter Rachael Hargan, were taking a break from shopping.

“We spent a lot of time using our own space basically, so it’s nice to get out and see people enjoying themselves,” Ms Maleady said.

“It’s our first time indoor dining since Christmas and we have found it very painless and enjoyable.

“I wanted to introduce Rachael to Bewley’s, because she hasn’t been here before and I just told her it was a famous landmark on Grafton Street.”

In Cork, owner of The Castle Inn, Michael O’Donovan, opened his doors to the public on Monday afternoon.

The pub has been in the family since the 1930s and has traded for only two weeks since March 2020.

“It’s been challenging but being publicans we are used to dealing with government paperwork and demands of us, so it’s fine once you get the head around the guidelines,” he said.

“We have our regulars coming back and we wouldn’t survive without them.

“Our regulars are aged from their 20s up to 80s.

“There is a great sense of excitement among staff and customers.”


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