Gardaí have said pubs and restaurants are not legally permitted to serve alcohol in temporary outdoor seating areas.
Licensed premises across the country have been given permission to set up outdoor seating areas by local councils, with many set up on paths or in front of businesses as a solution until indoor dining is allowed.
However, gardaí have said these areas are not covered by alcohol licenses originally issued by the District Court.
This means the sale of alcohol for consumption in the areas is illegal, according to The Irish Times.
“Outlets selling food or beverages are currently restricted to business on a takeaway basis or for consumption off the premises,” a Garda spokeswoman told The Irish Times, citing the Health Act 1947 (Section 31A - Temporary Restrictions) (Covid-19) (No. 2) Regulations 2021 which remains in effect.
Indoor dining and drinking will be permitted from July 5th under the Government's current reopening plan.
Gardaí did not confirm whether they will enforce the ban on drinking in temporary outdoor areas.
However, RTÉ reported several pubs in Galway have been told they are in breach of health restrictions by gardaí.
“Where crowds gather An Garda Síochána responsibility is preserving public order and preventing and investigating any criminal offence which occurs,” the spokeswoman said.
Gardaí said licenses to sell alcohol are issued by the District Court.
“The application for a licence to sell alcohol is accompanied by the lodgement of inter alia a site plan highlighting the specified area to which the licence will apply.
“The licensee is licensed to sell intoxicating liquor to a person to consume the alcohol within that highlighted area only, any other sales are on a take away basis only.”
The management of local places is primarily the responsibility of the relevant local authority, gardaí said.
“Local authorities may provide permission for additional seating space outside of licensed premises, but these spaces are not covered for the consumption of alcohol by the licence issued by the District Court.”
Gardaí added that many local authorities have passed bye-laws which limit the consumption of alcohol in public spaces.
“As public health regulations continue to be reduced and activity begins to normalise An Garda Síochána continues to remind the public of the ongoing public health guidelines, which include not to gather in large groups, maintain social distancing and wearing of face coverings in crowded public spaces.”