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'We won't last long with two-metre rule', warns top Irish chef

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Chef JP McMahon fears he will have to close his restaurant

Chef JP McMahon fears he will have to close his restaurant

Chef JP McMahon fears he will have to close his restaurant

New guidelines for restaurants issued by Failte Ireland this week have been criticised by a top chef, who said his Michelin-starred restaurant will have to close its doors if the two-metre rule remains in place.

JP McMahon, who owns three venues in Galway city including the Michelin-starred Aniar, said that it will spell disaster for the entire industry as he feels it's just not workable.

Survival

He said that the one-metre social distancing rule will at least give businesses a fighting chance at survival.

The chef said that things will be particularly hard for restaurants in Dublin, which have to pay "crazy high rents" while also having to maintain a revenue flow with a hugely reduced capacity.

"I don't think two metres is practical at all - it's the craziest thing anyone has ever come up with. I'm not a scientist but I've read the science and there is no more science to two metres than one metre," he said.

"I can't imagine most places being able to open and if they do, they're opening with their blinkers on. I'm not naive, if we open with the two-metre rule, we know that we're not going to last that long.

"The Covid payment ends in August and the minute that ends, that's it."

He also runs Tartare cafe and Cava Bodega, which have been operating as takeaways, but he said that Aniar will be hit the hardest by the social distancing measures and the lack of tourism.

Along with wife Drigin Gaffey, they achieved a Michelin star for Aniar in 2013 and have kept it every year.

However, the new guidelines mean that Aniar will be operating at just 40pc of its usual capacity.

He has already reduced his staff down from 45 to just 12 and says the acclaimed West End venue will only be able to accommodate eight customers instead of its usual 24.

"Even with the one metre, I'm still very worried about Aniar because we have no tourism this year and 75pc of our guests are tourists, sometimes they're all Americans," he said.

"This could close Aniar and that's one of the things that we know in reality, that it may happen and it is sad to see 10 years' work stopped."