DUBLIN, Ireland: Throughout Ireland final preparations gave way to the reopening of outdoor dining for pubs and restaurants on Monday.
However, indoor dining for restaurants will not return until July 5.
Following the announcement by Taoiseach Mchel Martin on Friday evening, the Restaurants Association of Ireland sought answers to why hotels will be allowed to serve guests indoors but restaurants will have to wait another month.
Association chief executive Adrian Cummins has called the decision "arbitrary, unjust and discriminative."
He noted that the continued closing of indoor restaurant dining jeopardizes the re-employment of 110,000 workers.
"What we are asking for is indoor dining equality," he said.
The government, however, said its phased opening of the country is necessary to ensure there is no further spread of the Covid virus, even as inoculations have become available to much of the population.
Still, restrictions will continue in hotel restaurants, as guidelines issued by the tourist support body Filte Ireland this week urged hotel restaurants to allow indoor diners to spend no more than 105 minutes at a table, with a maximum of six people aged 13 or over.
Also, tables must be spaced one meter from the nearest table.
Booking multiple tables will not be allowed and hotel dining rooms must close by 23:30.
At a Friday news conference, Mchel Martin noted that the guidelines remain the same as last summer and will be kept "under review."
While announcing details of the phased summer relaxation, it has also been reported that Ireland might not reach its target of vaccinating over 80 percent of the adult population with a first vaccine by the end of June, while seeing 55 percent fully vaccinated.
An inability to obtain adequate supplies of the Johnson & Johnson, as well as the AstraZeneca vaccines, has prevented Ireland from reaching its vaccination targets, said officials.
At the same time, the government has voiced concern over the spread of the Indian variant of Covid-19 in Britain and the implications for Ireland.