Regulations drafted to waive restaurant street furniture fees nationwide this year

REGULATIONS have been drawn up to temporarily remove restaurant fees of € 125 per table for street restaurants.

Housing Secretary Darragh O’Brien has developed a set of rules governing al fresco dining in restaurants, cafes and other establishments when they are allowed to reopen.

Temporary regulations have been approved in advance to allow restaurants to operate as take-aways without the need for building permits.

O’Brien will put forward regulations to extend this through the end of 2021. The regulations currently expire in November.

An ordinance will also be presented that provides for a license for street furniture free of charge for this year. Currently, street eateries are paying an annual fee of € 125 per table, although many local authorities waived it during the pandemic.

The minister also intends to change the existing street furniture license to include awnings and covers as a new class in the license.

This would permanently remove these structures from the requirement to submit a planning application.

It is assumed that this will be regulated on an ongoing basis under the same license and fee regulations for street furniture as tables and chairs.

These changes are expected to take place over the next few weeks until approved, after being proposed by Minister O’Brien.

Hotels, cafes, restaurants and attractions selling groceries can already apply for outdoor dining grants of up to € 4,000 to improve their outdoor dining capacity before the summer months.

The Outdoor Dining Improvement Program, opened to applicants on Tuesday, will provide funding for outdoor seating and accessories to help tourism and hospitality businesses offset some of the cost of upgrading their outdoor dining and seating facilities.

This is open to individual tourism and hospitality businesses, including hotels, cafes, restaurants and attractions that sell food for consumption on the premises, and is capped at € 4,000 per grant.

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The local authorities manage the system and all applicants must comply with planning regulations as well as legal and other compliance requirements. More details can be found here.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said Thursday he was “increasingly confident” that both indoor and outdoor areas will reopen in the summer.

He said, “It’s becoming increasingly clear that eating outside is much safer than eating inside.

“But we would hope to get to the point where both will be possible.”

– Additional coverage by Christina Finn.

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