Tourism development authority Fáilte Ireland has published new operational guidelines for the safe reopening of pubs, gastro pubs and bars.

According to the operational guidelines, bars that have been closed since March will be able to reopen safely from 29 June and customers will only be served if they are eating meals.

The minimum social distance between customers in pubs has been halved to one metre as long as other measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 are enforced, Fáilte Ireland noted.

Businesses can now implement the physical distancing in controlled environments provided other risk mitigation requirements have been met and pre-booked time slots are implemented.

The latest move comes after restaurant and bar owners complained that the minimum distance of two metres between people advised in other settings to avoid the spread of the virus would make their businesses uneconomical.

Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly said: “These guidelines are intended to provide clarity to businesses so that they can reopen safely on 29 June.

“I would like to thank my team and officials from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport who have been working tirelessly on ensuring these guidelines are practical while adhering to public health advice.”

Fáilte Ireland had discussions with officials from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport following guidance from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) for foodservice businesses to ensure some of its concerns were addressed.

The changes outlined have been accepted by the HPSC and include a change in seating time from 90 minutes to 105 minutes with an additional 15 minutes between bookings.

The operational guidelines will also require businesses to collect the contact information of just the party lead.

Fáilte Ireland guidelines are living documents that will also evolve to reflect new government advice and changes to protocols when they emerge.