Longford TD Joe Flaherty says cafes and restaurants very frustrated after being instructed to remove outdoor tables and chairs
Fianna Fáil TD for Longford, Joe Flaherty has said cafes and restaurants are very frustrated after being instructed to remove their outdoor tables and chairs.
Deputy Flaherty said he was contacted by a number of business owners trying to get back on their feet and reopen their businesses but who were told that outdoor tables and chairs at coffee shops, restaurants and other take away outlets are not permitted under COVID-19 restrictions.
He said, “Cafes and restaurants have all had to change the way they operate with many of them now offering a takeaway service in an effort just to keep something coming in.
“In keeping with social distancing guidelines some have put a small number of tables and chairs outside to accommodate customers. They are now being told to remove them as they are breaking the restrictions.
“I cannot fathom how on the one hand we are encouraging businesses to prepare to reopen with social distancing and to get their staff back on the books while on the other hand ordering them to remove outdoor tables and seats.
“So long as a café or restaurant is not obstructing a path, I can’t see what the problem is. I understand a Superintendent in Co Kilkenny is reported to have said that ‘the sale of food and beverages, for take-away only, qualifies as an essential activity under the current restrictions. The presence of outdoor tables and seating contravenes the take-away element and renders the outlet no longer essential’.
“I think the Minister needs to step in. We need to get real. Many of these restaurants and cafes are contemplating whether it will be worth their while even opening again. They are re-employing staff and the wheels of local economies are starting to move again, they shouldn’t be meeting roadblocks in their efforts,” he concluded.