Covid-19: Hospitality reopens in Republic of Ireland

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Hotels, guesthouses and bed-and-breakfasts in the Republic of Ireland are reopening in a further easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

It is the latest phase in the planned reopening of Ireland's society and economy over the summer.

Services such as hotel leisure facilities, bars and restaurants are restricted to residents only.

Tourism Minister Catherine Martin said it was "a further important step" in Ireland's recovery from the pandemic.

"There is now cause for cautious optimism as the rollout of the vaccination programme gathers pace," she said.

Ms Martin said the sector had faced a "difficult period of enforced closure".

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image captionIreland spent months under a strict lockdown which was imposed at Christmas

Tim Fenn of the Irish Hotels Federation said its members were "delighted to be reopening and are really looking forward to welcoming back team members and guests".

But he said many hotels were facing significant reopening costs.

"We are asking that reopening grants are put in place that reflect the true scale of the reopening costs including considerable training and upskilling to enable the continued survival of businesses whilst laying the building blocks for recovery and the restoration of employment," said Mr Fenn.

David Cahill, manager of the Redcastle Hotel on County Donegal's Inishowen peninsula, told BBC Radio Foyle that staff were preparing to welcome 100 guests on Wednesday morning.

He said hospitality had faced "unprecedented challenges".

"And while we cannot underestimate those at all, we are looking to move forward, engage with our customers and have a good summer ahead," he said.

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image captionNon-essential travel will be allowed to resume in the Republic of Ireland from 19 July

Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Micheál Martin announced several steps in the country's gradual reopening last week.

Cinemas and gyms are due to reopen in the Republic of Ireland on 7 June and on 5 July bars and restaurants will be able to serve customers indoors again.

International travel will resume on 19 July through the EU Digital Covid Certificate.

From 5 August there will be further increase in the number of people allowed to attend both indoor and outdoor events, including 100 guests at weddings.

Restaurants, pubs, hairdressers and other close-contact services have been closed in the Republic of Ireland since Christmas Eve.

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