The government is working on plans to reopen hotels starting June 10.
The move would be a boon for the hospitality industry and would likely work in tandem with an increase in inter-county travel in June as well.
And a minister explained to the Irish Mirror last night why the government is interested in this date, saying: “People deserve something to look forward to in the near future.”
However, the reopening of hotels, which would include bar and restaurant service for guests, could pose problems for the government if other closed bars and restaurants get jealous.
The usual indoor dinners will most likely not reopen in June at these establishments, potentially leading many to protest the favoritism shown to hotel hospitality.
There are some ministers in the government interested in eating outdoors again sometime towards the end of May.
The Government has repeatedly stated that outdoor activity is safe, which could be interpreted as laying the groundwork for the return of cookouts.
Last Monday, Minister Simon Harris said there was “potential for more” in May.
And when asked what he meant by that, he mentioned “alfresco dining and the like” as an area that could possibly look forward to further relaxation of restrictions next month.
The ‘pints to go’ phenomenon is currently widespread in Dublin and many other areas, with no evidence that it has specifically caused an increase in the number of Covid cases.
Currently, a limited number of hotels are open only to essential workers.
A senior government source told the Irish Mirror: “June 10 is a date that has been mentioned for hotels (reopening).
“People deserve something to look forward to in the near future.”
“The vaccination program has been working and it is the plan to continue advancing in the reopening of our society.
“The Government will present its plan for the months of May, June and July next week.”
When asked if this included plans for hotels, pubs and restaurants, the source added: “yes, hospitality included.”
The June bank holiday falls this year on June 5, 6 and 7.
The government does not want to open hotels before this for “fear that the mass movement” will hit the road for the holidays that weekend.
Another source said when asked about the June 10 date: “That would be the optimistic date that some are looking at, yes, but it depends on how things go.”
Another source said that waiting until after the banking holiday would be “prudent” given that Covid-19 case numbers appear to have stalled in recent days.
The Restaurant Association of Ireland (RAI) wants all restaurants to open at the same time, not just the selective category of hotel restaurants.
RAI CEO Adrian Cummins said: “We welcome any government indicative dates on when hotels and hotel restaurants will have the opportunity to reopen.
“As a sector, we have complied 100% with all measures and we look forward to welcoming customers to a safe environment and a pleasant dining experience.
“However, the Irish Restaurant Association will continue to push for all restaurants, both inside and outside hotels, to open together.”
Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, pointed out during the week that hotels and guesthouses could reopen in June, but he would go no further by providing a date.
He said: “We are in a much better space than we thought we would be and that would help us make decisions for May and June because we will give directions for June in terms of hotels and bed and breakfasts and guest houses as I said in my last statement.
“We have already given some indications for June in one aspect of the hospitality industry; hotels, pensions and B & Bs ”.
When asked if the inter-county ban would be lifted to coincide with the reopening of hotels to allow for vacations, Tanáiste, Leo Varadkar, warned people to make sure their reservations were refundable just in case.
Speaking on the pedestal at Leinster House on Wednesday, he said: “For anyone who is booking fair enough, but be sure to see the terms and conditions and that it is refundable if travel between counties is not possible.
“This virus continues to surprise us and June is very far away and six weeks into a pandemic.”