Eamon Ryan adds further weight to suggestions €9 substantial meal will be scrapped
"I think we've learned outdoors is safer so that will be the defining [factor], not whether or not you're having chicken nuggets on top of it.”
Transport Minister Eamon Ryan has said it's "likely" the controversial €9 substantial meal rule will be scrapped when Covid-19 restrictions in relation to the hospitality industry are eased in the months ahead.
Speaking at the launch of a €3 million pilot bike upcycling initiative on Wednesday afternoon, the Minister said that outdoor hospitality will resume at the same time the inter-county travel ban is lifted, with Ryan suggesting this is likely to occur in June.
Questioned as to whether the outdoor setting would mean there would be no substantial meal requirement, Ryan responded: "I think [the need for a substantial meal] is less likely. I think we've learned outdoors is safer so that will be the defining [factor], not whether or not you're having chicken nuggets on top of it."
The Minister referred to the substantial meal rule as "a false division", indicating that perhaps wet pubs and gastropubs will reopen at the same time for outdoor service.
“I think it will start outdoors because it’ll be much safer and I don't think that it’ll be divided between food or not. Outdoors versus indoors will be the main difference," Ryan said.
Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris recently referred to the substantial meal rule as "a bit of a mockery".
"It became a bit of a mockery the last time if I'm being honest. I mean, I was involved with the rule and I'm being self-critical here, the idea that a plate of chicken goujons can somehow protect you from Covid," he said.
Meanwhile, both the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) and the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) have said that pubs and hospitality businesses should be allowed to open at the same time, to avoid the divisions seen between wet pubs and gastropubs in 2020.