Restrictions on restaurants and pubs are expected to be central to discussions between the Government and public health officials next week as the plan for exiting the Level 5 lockdown is finalised.
Senior sources involved told The Irish Times that indoor hospitality is “a key battleground” in the forthcoming discussions.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said he wants Ireland to exit Level 5 of Covid-19 restrictions on December 1st.
However, he said this Christmas will be a very different one from previous ones in that large groups people could not congregate in pubs or other settings.
“That will pose challenges for us. It will not be a normal Christmas but it can still be a safe and enjoyable Christmas if we mind ourselves and if we mind others,” he told Virgin Media News.
Asked about the easing of travel restrictions, he replied: “We would like to see some relaxation of 5km and county borders.”
It is expected that by the end of next week the Government will finalise the plan for exiting the lockdown and managing the pandemic during December.
Restaurant owners are pleading for more information about what is to come in December so they can order stock, hire staff and prepare for reopening.
Speaking to The Irish Examiner, Mike Ryan, who operates restaurants in Cork and Limerick, said the industry needs certainty.
“Whether we can open with indoor dining or not will dictate how many staff we need, how much supplies, so we need that clarity,” he said.
“We don't want to rehire workers only to put them back out on the PUP [pandemic unemployment] payment a week later.”
Meanwhile, a further eight deaths and 330 new cases of Covid-19 were reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team on Friday.
This brings to 2,018 the total number of deaths and 69,802 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Republic of Ireland.
New figures also suggest the numbers of healthcare workers contracting Covid-19 in the second wave of the virus is considerably lower than in the first wave, according a report by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.