‘WET pubs’ across the county finally reopened their doors yesterday after a lengthy six months closure.
Pubs that serve food were allowed to reopen at the start of July but alcohol only pubs were left closed up until yesterday (Wednesday).
The reopening of so-called wet pubs was pushed back on several occasions by the Executive but despite introducing a new round of restrictions on Tuesday evening, pub doors finally re-opened on Wednesday.
Prior to the reopening, Stormont leaders were forced to acknowledge that the latest Covid-19 messaging had become confused.
Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill accepted that introducing region-wide restrictions on household gatherings a day before the reopening of wet pubs appeared “conflicting” to the public but explained that there was sound scientific evidence to justify the contrasting steps.
She insisted that pubs could provide a more controlled environments where social distancing and infection control measures could be regulated and enforced.
A number of regulations have been introduced by the Executive to ensure the safe operation of pubs including a ban on dancing and operating at a reduced capacity.
The venue must collect customer details to assist the contact tracing programme, and a maximum of six people from any number of households can be seated at a table.
All service will be seated at tables, and there will be no standing or getting served at the bar.
Face covering should be worn to enter and leave the venue and for movement inside but the masks can then be removed once seated.
Hand sanitisation stations must also be put in place and used by visitors to the venue.