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Drinkers head to pubs in Ireland after six weeks as tough lockdown restrictions are eased

Pubs across Ireland reopened to customers yesterday after a month and a half of closures, but those looking to buy a pint must also buy a substantial €9 meal.  

As of yesterday, parts of the hospitality sector were given the green light to welcome back punters if they turn up in groups of six or less. 

But the new easing of restrictions is not good news for all businesses, as it was announced any drink must be purchased with a substantial meal worth at least €9, meaning 'wet pubs' which do not serve food will remain closed until further notice, The Irish Post reports. 

The latest announcement comes as a row over whether a scotch egg can be classed as a substantial meal erupted in England this week following changes to the country's hospitality restrictions.

Pubs reopened in Ireland yesterday after six weeks of closures as the government announced new measures which see the hospitality sector opening once again

Under the new restrictions, people looking to buy a pint must also purchase a substantial meal worth at least €9 

People are only allowed to visit pubs in Ireland in groups of six or less, but those six people can be from different households

Under the latest rules, customers looking to visit places which are unable to maintain social distancing will be required to pre-book. 

And, while groups are limited to just six people, those around the table can all be from different households. 

The new changes also limit the length of time people can visit, restricting their slot to an hour and 45 minutes in establishments which cannot ensure social distancing measures are met, RTE reports.  

Christmas parties are also off the table in Ireland as multiple table bookings for the same group are prohibited, as well as live and loud music. 

There are further limitations on pubs which cannot maintain social distancing, meaning their customers can only be allocated one hour and 45 minute slots which must be pre-booked

The new restrictions mean 'wet pubs' which do not serve food will remain closed until further notice

Meanwhile, in England, a row has erupted over whether a scotch egg can be classed as a 'substantial meal' to be served with food.

Earlier this week Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove told LBC two scotch eggs would be 'a starter', 24 hours after Environment Secretary George Eustice said one is a substantial meal.

Mr Gove reiterated his stance on LBC in a second interview on Good Morning Britain - before backtracking and then telling ITV News: 'A scotch egg is a substantial meal.'

The confusion comes after the Government said people going in tier two will have to have a 'substantial meal' to allow them to buy a pint. 

Michael Gove told LBC last week: 'A couple of scotch eggs is a starter as far as I'm concerned'

A row broke out over whether a scotch egg can be classed as a 'substantial meal', with key politicians providing conflicting messages

The law says a substantial meal 'might be expected to be served as breakfast, the main midday or main evening meal, or as a main course at such a meal'.

Some pubs have now brought out new menus, with one offering a 'Boris Menu' of £1.99 meals - while Wetherspoon has launched a new breakfast muffin range. 

LBC's Nick Ferrari asked Mr Gove: 'Do you class a scotch egg as a substantial meal? There does seem to be a degree of debate about this.'

Mr Gove replied: 'A couple of scotch eggs is a starter as far as I'm concerned, but I do recognise that there is a… with pickle on the side... but there is, to be serious, there is a well-understood definition of what a substantial meal is.

Within two hours, while appearing on ITV News, Gove had retracted his earlier comments, stating: 'A scotch egg is a substantial meal. I myself would definitely scoff a couple of scotch eggs if I had the chance, but I do recognise it is a substantial meal.' 

Restaurants are said to have had a surge in bookings in anticipation of the new measures for the hospitality sector 

Restaurant across Ireland report they are already fully booked, with little to no availability before Christmas

When looking to book a table in a restaurant Ireland, many are being left disappointed to find everywhere is fully booked until Christmas. 

In anticipation of the new rules, demand for tables in restaurants is said to have rocketed, with Extra reporting most are booked out until Christmas - leaving many looking to grab a drink or a bite to eat disappointed. 

The owners of Trieste Café and Wine Bar in Galway said 'the phone didn't stop hopping' when the government announced the easing of restrictions. 

The business is now booked out every Friday or Sunday in the lead up to the festive season. 

Similarly, Mr Fox restaurant in Dublin had an influx of bookings online before it had even confirmed it would be open. 

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