Many bar and restaurant owners have reported a quiet day, ahead of the first night of reopened indoor hospitality in Ireland.
Bars and restaurants in Dublin city centre were expecting trade to get busier later in the week, with indoor dining now open for the fully vaccinated and those who have had Covid-19 in the last six months.
Most reported no great rush of customers waiting to return indoors during the day.
On Poolbeg Street, in the city centre, the name Mulligan’s has been over the door of the well-known Dublin pub since the 1780s.
The pub has been in the Cusack family for almost 80 years, and Darren Cusack said it was a “huge sense of relief” to open again.
“It’s been a long time coming. It’s hard to believe. We closed the doors on March 14th 2020 and we thought it was going to be for a couple of weeks, we didn’t think it was going to be nearly 500 days until we opened again but we are glad it’s finally here,” he said.
“We were doing a bit of outside serving at the weekends, we only had eight tables outside. We were happy to have a few of the regulars back but now we have reopened inside this is really Mulligan’s again.”
Mr Cusack thinks it could take a few weeks before trade returns to something like normality.
“We are hoping it will be busy, but it’s hard to tell. We rely on tourists and we have a good regular crowd. I think it will be September before we see offices open in town again and we need the likes of workers back in again but we have regular clientele,” he said.
Peter Roche, a 76-year-old from Dublin, has been drinking in Mulligan’s for 55 years.
He was joined by friends Jack Edwards and Archie Rutledge who travelled from Texas in the US – they call Peter the “Mayor of Mulligan’s”.
Mr Roche said: “It’s absolutely fantastic to be back. It’s been absolute hell for the last year and a half. It’s been absolutely crazy, but today is a great day.
“It’s a great day for the proprietor too, it’s fantastic.
“I had a pint outside but this is the first pint inside in over a year.
“I am vaccinated and I have no concerns and I’ll do whatever has to be done. It is great to be able to get out and socialise as that is what life is about.
“This is a great establishment to meet people and the amount of people I have met over the years has been incredible.”
On Grafton Street, many shoppers were enjoying being able to sit inside the city’s famous Bewley’s cafe.
Sarah Maleady, from Glasnevin, and her granddaughter Rachael Hargan, were taking a break from shopping.
“We spent a lot of time using our own space basically, so it’s nice to get out and see people enjoying themselves,” Ms Maleady said.
“It’s our first time indoor dining since Christmas and we have found it very painless and enjoyable.”
“I wanted to introduce Rachael to Bewley’s, because she hasn’t been here before and I just told her it was a famous landmark on Grafton Street.”
Despite the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, some businesses in the capital opted to trade outdoors only – at least for now.
Under the system signed off by the Government, a maximum of six people over the age of 13 are allowed at each table. However, the limit does not include children aged 12 or younger.
The EU Digital Covid Certificate (DCC) or the HSE Covid-19 Vaccination Record can be used for proof of vaccination status when entering pubs, restaurants, cafes or food courts.
There are no time limits on indoor dining but premises must be clear of all customers by 11.30pm.