By Cate McCurry, PA
More than 4,000 pubs are to reopen for outdoor service today, which will see around 25,000 staff back to work.
Many pubs have been booked out for the bank holiday weekend as Ireland enters its next phase in reopening society and the economy.
For traditional pubs in Dublin, it will it will be the first time they have reopened since the start of the pandemic.
Restaurants, beer gardens and cafes will be able to serve food and drinks outdoors, while gyms, swimming pools and leisure centres will reopen for individual training.
Cinemas and theatres will reopen, while outdoor amusement and theme parks will also reopen to the public.
An unvaccinated household can have visitors from one other unvaccinated household inside their home.
The number of people allowed to attended a wedding will increase to 25 people, while outdoor sports matches will also return.
The number of people allowed to attend an organised outside event will be capped at 100.
A number of pilots events will also take place in the coming weeks, with one of the first events taking place on Thursday.
The first concert in Ireland since the pandemic will be at Iveagh Gardens, where up to 500 people will be allowed to attend.
Today’s lifting of restrictions will see over 50 per cent of Ireland’s pubs reopen for outdoor service.
Publicans are reporting strong bookings for the first day back, with many pubs fully booked out a week in advance of the bank holiday.
Some pubs are reserving tables for “walks-ins” to cater for customers on the day.
Padraig Cribben, Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) chief executive, said: “It’s a big day for the pub trade as 4,000 pubs are set to reopen for outdoor service.
“There is a strong sense of anticipation among publicans to get open and get back to what they do best.
“The message from publicans to old regulars and new customers alike is ‘we’ve missed you and welcome back’.
“The reopening for outdoor service will also see 25,000 staff return to work after an horrendous 15 months.
“Last year’s numerous lockdowns and partial reopening played havoc with their lives so it’s important staff have confidence that we are now on the path to a full reopening.
“For the vast majority of publicans, outdoor service will keep them ticking over until indoor trading resumes on July 5.
“We’re acutely aware that thousands of our members cannot open this week at they have no outdoor space and will have to wait another four weeks to resume trading.
“We’re hoping for a busy summer once all pubs open.
“There is a sense in the trade that people want to get out of the house and meet up.
“To get pubs back open will be a great sign the country is returning to normal.”
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has also urged the public to start spend their savings to help the economy.
He said the Government’s €4 billion stimulus package will help the economy “take off life a rocket” over the summer months.
Writing in the Sunday Independent, Mr Varadkar said: “The 12bn households have saved because of the pandemic will result in people spending more on things they missed out on over the past few months — like new clothes, household items, weekends away, home repairs and nights out.
“They should not be discouraged from doing so.
“We need to avoid the paradox of thrift, in which people who have a bit of money are afraid to spend it.
“Spending it will help those struggling to get back to work and save many businesses from failure.
“Some will use it to pay debts and that’s good too as it will free up new lending for others who need it.
“I believe that in the next three months, we could see economic growth break all records.”