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12th May 2020

Publicans oppose proposals to ban smoking in outdoor areas

James Fenton

Publicans are opposing a proposal to ban smoking in outdoor areas once they are allowed to reopen.

The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland’s (RCPI) Policy Group on Tobacco is calling on the governement to extend the smoking ban in pubs to outdoor areas. Professor Des Cox, chair of the group, has contacted Health Minister Simon Harris to say that ‘on the back of the recently published Government roadmap for reopening services across Ireland, we understand that plans for how public houses will run their services are currently being discussed.

‘If outdoor areas are to be used to facilitate social distancing when bars open up again, then smoking should be prohibited from all areas of all pubs when they reopen.’

Prof Cox’s letter went on to say that ‘customers who are seated in the outdoor areas of bars should not be exposed to secondhand smoke. If bar staff are providing table service to all customers, including customers seated in the outdoor areas, they too will be exposed to secondhand smoke.’

However, Donall O’Keeffe, CEO of the Licenced Vintner’s Association opposes the proposals, saying: “There has been an extraordinary high level of compliance to the smoking ban legislation by both businesses and customers.

“Any changes to that legislation would require the new government to bring through legislation which is a slow complex process and we will fully oppose any changes to that legislation.

“We will maintain social distancing in the outdoor area the same as the indoor area.”

Pubs are currently scheduled to reopen in phase 5 of the government’s roadmap which is due to begin on August 10. However, the LVA recently produced a list of proposals which they feel could allow them to open earlier, such as table service becoming a requirement and numbers being confined to four people per square metre.

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