The crowd is entertained by Smash Hits at the Kavangh's Festival in Portlaoise in 2021. PIc Alf Harvey
The hospitality sector has welcomed the announcement of the ending of most Covid restrictions in Ireland.
The Restaurants Association of Ireland chief executive Adrian Cummins said businesses are “breathing a sigh of relief after two years of lockdowns and restricted trading and are excited to trade again”.
“Staff and customer safety will continue to be paramount for the sector,” he said.
“The association also welcomes comments by Government that current supports will have no cliff edge.
“Hospitality businesses welcome the reopening of their doors without restrictions but know that it will take some time to trade out of this and small hospitality businesses country wide have built up debt over the past two years, supports will be vital.”
The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) said the removal of most restrictions has been “greeted with a huge amount of relief and expectation by publicans and their staff across the country”.
VFI chief executive Padraig Cribben said: “After a nightmare 22 months this is the news our members have been waiting for. The removal of all restrictions this weekend is the green light for pubs to get back to doing what they do best and I know for a fact they can’t wait.
“Across Ireland there are 7,000 pubs employing 50,000 staff so the benefits of reopening will be felt everywhere.
“Overnight, we are saying goodbye to vaccine passes, mandatory table service, contact details, six per table, sitting at all times, one-metre social distancing, no pool or darts and the ban on using bar counters.
“It really is remarkable to see it all coming to an end.
“Over the course of the past two years there have been numerous false starts and deep disappointment as we returned to various lockdowns, but there is a strong belief this time is different.
“We must learn to live with Covid, which means solutions must be put in place for any future waves.
“The hospitality trade can’t return to rolling lockdowns so Government must engage with the sector about meaningful solutions to keep us open.”
Meanwhile it was described as a “momentous day” for the music and entertainment sector.
The Music and Entertainment Association of Ireland (MEAI) said it had been 680 days of “adversity, being unable to work in any meaningful way, of financial hardship, and of major mental anguish and despair”.
“As we face this return to normality we are conscious that this will be another difficult journey for the months ahead,” they said.
“Our sector has been decimated and needs to be rebuilt. The pandemic has questioned our value and identity as professionals, and we must challenge that and improve the recognition and quality of our lives as professionals in this sector.
“We face tomorrow with some apprehension, maybe a sense of disbelief, but most of all with hope and optimism that the worst is behind us and brighter days are ahead.
“We must work towards a better future in ensuring that we, as a sector, never have to endure the hardship that we have experienced for the last 680 days.”
They said financial support will be required to continue as the sector rebuilds.
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