“Bittersweet” was how one Cork publican described the reopening of restaurants and gastro pubs in the city today after a six-week closure under Level 5 restrictions.
With the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, pubs serving food as well as restaurants and cafés across Cork can greet customers from today.
These new restrictions include a maximum of six people per table and the requirement for all food to be prepared on the premises, along with other public health guidelines.
For Michael O’Donovan, Chairman of the Vintners’ Federation Ireland (VFI), the decision to restrict the reopening to pubs who can cook food on their premises is “disappointing”.
“During the summer a lot of pubs teamed up with local takeaways and local businesses and both businesses prospered from the new development,” he said.
“It’s disappointing that we’re back to the scenario where a nine-euro substantial means are the only difference between a pub opening and a pub not opening.”
As chairman of the VFI and the owner of a so-called ‘wet pub’, Mr O’Donovan will not be reopening the Castle Inn today.
“My family have had the pub since the mid-1930s and this is the first Christmas that the bar is closed,” said Mr O’ Donovan.
“It’s very bitter-sweet. I'm delighted that my colleagues can open tomorrow but there is 55 per cent of our members in Cork city that won’t be opening.”
Claire Nash of Nash 19 has said that while a Christmas with Covid-19 will be difficult, she is looking forward to fully reopening.
“We’re preparing for a Covid Christmas and we’re looking forward to the challenge,” she said.
“We are ready as much as we can be. There is an awful lot of tables for six booked which is great and we have had very heavy bookings so we would advise people to book in advance.”
For Ms Nash, the new restrictions were “expected” and with large premises, luckily, Nash 19 can cater to the limitations, though the restaurants capacity will be cut to about 60 seats.
"We’re lucky that we have a lot of space, so we have a very airy restaurant," she said.
“We’re looking forward to getting back."