No time limits and no pre-booking: what the unpublished pub reopening guidelines reveal

Guidelines were drawn up by Fáilte Ireland ahead of expected August 10th reopening

Gary Cusack, owner of Mulligan’s pub, Poolbeg St, prepares for reopening. Photograph: Tom Honan

Gary Cusack, owner of Mulligan’s pub, Poolbeg St, prepares for reopening. Photograph: Tom Honan

Draft guidelines prepared for the planned reopening of pubs would have seen no limit on the length of time drinkers could spend in a pub.

Nor would customers have been required to prebook a time slot as long as physical distancing was observed.

The guidelines for so-called “wet pubs”, seen by The Irish Times, were drawn up by Fáilte Ireland in expectation of the August 10th reopening date going ahead.

The Government this week decided against moving to phase four of its reopening plan, meaning pubs that do not serve food will remain closed.

The draft guidelines state that prebooking and time-limited slots of 105 minutes' duration would not be a requirement “if physical distancing of two metres is strictly maintained”.

If physical distancing was reduced to one metre, prebooked time-limited slots must be in place for customers, which are a maximum of 105 minutes' duration plus a minimum of 15 minutes between bookings in order to allow for cleaning and to ensure customers could leave and enter without mixing.

In terms of physical distancing, customers would also be asked to stand at least two metres away from other groups of people who were not from the same household.

A designated employee should also be stationed at front of house to control physical-distancing measures, the document states.

“It is the responsibility of supervisors and managers to ensure that customers do not congregate in groups. Customers should be seated at a table except when using the toilet, paying and departing.

“Prominent signage must explain current physical-distancing practices. This must be accompanied by clear and visible markings that illustrate the safe distancing protocol throughout the premises.”

In terms of smoking areas, the capacity must be reviewed and the amount of seating and stools would have to be reduced to ensure the recommended physical-distancing measures were adhered to.

Action plan

The guidelines state that before reopening, bars and public houses would need to “review how they work and introduce new practices and procedures to ensure everyone stays safe”.

Pub owners would also be told to create an action plan, once pubs reopen, that “must reassure employees and customers that safeguarding their health and safety is of the utmost importance”.

They must also “appoint at least one lead worker representative charged with ensuring that Covid-19 measures are strictly adhered to in their workplace”.

The guidelines also recommend phased shifts and small teams that have the same combination of people. “This will assist should contact tracing be required.”

Employers would also be asked where possible to identify an area on the premises where any customer or employee showing possible Covid-19 symptoms could be isolated from other people.

In terms of cleaning, the following items must be cleaned after every use: tables, stools, chairs and seating, trays, bill or tip trays and pens.

The guidelines have not yet been published as there have been discussions with industry representatives about customers being allowed to sit at the bar.

However, in its advice to Government, the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) said all customers in pubs would have to sit at tables, and not the bar, when pubs eventually do reopen.

NPHET also said the wearing of face coverings should be mandatory for members of staff in bars unless there was a partition between the employee and member of the public.

NPHET also recommended that, when pubs were eventually reopened, all premises would have to close daily at 10.30pm.

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