Pubs will not be able to team up with takeaways to reopen their doors in line with coronavirus guidelines next month.
The Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) said it believes the new regulations will ‘clearly define’ what a restaurant is.
Cabinet will this afternoon sign off on plans to exit Level Five restrictions, with shops, hairdressers and gyms to get the green light to reopen from next week.
Restaurants and gastropubs are expected to follow later in the month; however, pubs that don’t serve food are likely to be ordered to stay closed.
On Breakfast Business this morning, RAI Chief Executive Adrian Cummins said he has been involved in intense discussion and negotiations with senior officials right up to and including yesterday evening.
He said he expects officials to announce clear guidelines on which pubs are allowed to open.
“What we know now is that the definition of a restaurant is now clearly defined,” he said.
“It must have a kitchen, it must have a chef in-situ and the delivery from the takeaway next door to a business, we believe, will be ruled out.”
He said it is essential the hospitality industry is allowed to open “on day one when Level Five restrictions are lifted.”
“We need to get open as quickly as possible,” he said.
“We have put that argument to them and I think they have taken it on board that we are a controlled, safe, regulated environment and I think Cabinet will sign off this morning when they meet and allow restaurants to open.
“This isn’t about if; it’s about when now and we need to get our doors open as quickly as possible.
“Next weekend is a very important weekend for us and we need to be open so we can trade for as many days as possible.
“Also, we need to know as quickly as possible to get our suppliers and our staff all ready, rosters ready and purchases in from our suppliers so it is a huge couple of days in our industry.”
He said he does not expect to see restaurants inundated with customers when they do reopen.
“We know there won’t be the mad surge of office parties this year so when you take that out of the equation, what you are going to have are very controlled, small numbers at tables,” he said.
“Very much friends and households coming together in small, as the Government call it, bubbles.
“We are ready for this. We did it during the summer and we did it quite well. We know our industry but this is about the collective. It is about our customers working with us and doing the right thing to supress the virus within our industry.”
Meanwhile, the Licenced Vintners' Association has warned that the decision to keep pubs that don’t serve food closed is based on politics rather than public health.
“Any decision to separate out wet pubs from the rest of hospitality will be a purely political decision taken by Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Greens,” he said.
“There has been no evidence advanced that wet pubs are a higher risk and it remains our position that all hospitality should open together next week.”