August 10 is circled in a lot of people's calendars as the date that Irish people can return to the pub once phase 5 of the easing of Covid-19 restrictions begins.
That seems a long way away at the minute but rest assured publicans are already putting the work in to ensure the safety of all staff and customers when that day arrives. The Irish public got a glimpse of what the post-pandemic pub experience will be like last night when Claire Byrne, Joe Duffy and Nuala Carey popped into McCoy's, which is known to viewers as the local of choice for the characters on Fair City.
While there, we saw them sitting at separate tables as Duffy grumbled openly about the situation, describing it as "Aslan country - a crazy world". For her part, Nuala declared that she'll be making a beeline for the beer garden the next time she's in a pub.
The trio were joined by publican Billy Keane, who initially wore a mask before taking it off to chat about the eerie scenario. He said that "some people are saying now that we should have perspex up at the counter. And you could get two or three to sit up at the bar maybe a metre or two metres apart. It's wrecking most of our heads in the pub business."
On Twitter, the reaction was a mix between amusement, bemusement and a fair amount of denial as people reckoned that the reality will be a lot more craic than this set-up portrayed...
The Irish pub of the future on #cblive . Is Jeremy Beadle going to jump out from the jax. The barman just took off his mask after saying he can’t breath. 2 meter signs on the seats. You can kiss you ass goodbye to the Irish nightlife and social life. What absolute nonsense. pic.twitter.com/t9XPl7Pfi6
— Niall Boylan (@Niall_Boylan) May 18, 2020
— Kevin McGahern (@kevinmcgahern) May 18, 2020
— Project North (@ManDearSir) May 18, 2020
— Dublin By Pub (@dublinbypub) May 18, 2020
Some people in the trade moved to allay people's fears by showing followers what they're planning to put in place once the doors open...
— The Bridge 1859 (@TheBridge1859) May 19, 2020
Here is a video of what a pub will actually look like under social distancing all of which will be phased out ( please god ) its the Eden in Rathfarnham. Yes it’s a big pub but I’m just trying to show some positvity to the trade https://t.co/EgMQSdTvzT. #cblive
— Noel Anderson (@NoelAnderson_) May 19, 2020
Whatever the case, nobody could have foreseen the Irish public being told how a pub works back at the start of the year. Bizarre times indeed. You can have a look at the full segment from last night's Claire Byrne Live below...