“The end of this is within our grasp."
Those were the words of Taoiseach Micheál Martin as he last evening confirmed the next phases for the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.
The Taoiseach said that considering progress in the vaccination programme during the month of May and the current levels of the virus in society, all of the measures that the Government hoped to introduce in June will now go ahead as planned.
In addition, from June 7, up to 200 people can attend outdoor events in venues with a minimum capacity of 5,000 and up to 100 can attend other outdoor events.
Cinemas and theatres will also reopen on that date and there will be an incremental reopening of Driver Test Centres and re-opening of driver theory test services.
From July 5, indoor services can resume for bars and restaurants with a maximum of 100 attendees in larger venues and 50 in all others.
Owner of Nana’s on Douglas Street, Steven Hackett, said that it is a “date to look forward to, to get the pub back up and running, to get people back into the pub and to try to make back some money-money lost over the last year”.
He welcomed the timeframe the industry has been given this time around ahead of reopening which he said is “needed to prepare”.
“You can’t open a pub or restaurant or any hospitality business in a week or two, you need that time, especially after everything being closed for so long,” he said.
He said that taps, fridges, and air conditioning units will have to be checked, the pub will be getting a lick of paint and stock will have to be ordered.
“There’s going to be all those costs before we even open the doors again and then stock the place again and we won’t know exactly how much we need because you’re looking back on figures and orders from last year but it’s not going to be the same. Those two weeks in September are a rough guideline for what the future is going to be for the next few months,” he said.
Mr Hackett said that there are many regulars looking forward to the pub’s reopening, people who go to the pub to “meet people, have a chat and make friends”.
Noreen Gannon of Gallaghers Gastro Pub on MacCurtain Street said that it is “great to have some clarity and a good lead-in time to get ready” ahead of reopening.
“We’ve been getting ready for the last couple of weeks anyway but it’s great to have this amount of time. It helps enormously and helps the team to get everything into place as well,” she said.
She said that she looks forward to welcoming back her “lovely customers”, both the regulars and new customers.
“We have lovely customers and a lot of regulars come in every week and our new customers. Since things have changed with the lockdown and new systems came in, it brought with it a lot of new customers as well which is lovely.
“We’ve got very good feedback from people who have been giving us good vibes,” she said.
Ms Gannon’s new business, Moody Cafe Vin Bar on Lower Glanmire Road, only opened for eight days last year before being shut again due to Covid-19 but is reopening for outdoor dining on Monday, June 7.
“That’s exciting because with Moody we opened for eight days and had to close so as a new business it was very tough but we’re coming out the other side of it now which is great.
“It’s a sun trap there too, we're very lucky. The sun is there all day and all evening when it shines,” she said.
She said that businesses in the Victorian Quarter are working hard behind the scenes to get ready for what will be happening in the area over the next couple of years and that it is “very exciting” to be working together as much as possible on what she said “is very much an entertainment street” with a good mixture of community.
From July 5, there will also be a further increase in the numbers attending outdoor events.
Indoor exercise and sports activities will return and there will be further relaxation on visits to private homes.
Up to 50 guests will be able to attend wedding receptions and from 5 August, this may increase to 100 if progress continues.
Cork hotelier Michael Magner described the changes as “great news”.
Mr Magner, who owns the Vienna Woods Hotel said the announcement was a sign, hopefully, of things to come.
“We never want to go back to a stage that we’ve been through for the last 16 months," he said.
“People gather at occasions like weddings and christening parties and other occasions that are important in the life of the family and to get those gatherings and events back will be really important for people as well,” he added.
Mr Magner also said that he is hopeful that live music for indoors can return soon as the first dance is a “big deal for couples”.
From August 5, subject to progress, there will also be a further increase in numbers attending indoor events, with 200 in larger venues and 100 in all others. There will also be a further increase in the number attending outdoor events.
The 50% capacity restriction on public transport will be lifted.
Speaking last night, the Taoiseach said managing the pandemic must be a collective effort.
"This coming month could be the most important test of that spirit that we have faced since this ordeal began," he said.
He said that continued progress along with that roadmap "will depend on each of us thinking about all of us".
"We all want out of the restrictions, but that will require each of us, as individuals, business owners, arts and sports officers, as friends, neighbours and family, to stick to the guidelines that are still in place for the coming period.
"If we continue to mind each other, If we continue to make the right choices, be vigilant, take our vaccine when our turn comes; If we continue to do all these things, the end of this is within our grasp."