I am aware that the Chairman is tied for time so I will keep my remarks brief. I wish to follow in the vein of Deputy Ó Broin. I spoke with Deputy Murphy this morning. Even though we crossed swords quite a great deal, members of the committee worked well together, particularly in respect of student rent. It is quite coincidental that tomorrow we will begin with student rents again in the Dáil. I wish former Minister, Deputy Murphy, all the very best. He is a decent guy. We had policy differences but he certainly tried his best, was very earnest and was a good person to get on with. I wish him very well in whatever his new choice in life is and in his new career.
I thank the Cathaoirleach and the members for affording me the opportunity to present to the committee today the two sets of proposed planning regulations which have been circulated. First, we have the Planning and Development Act 2000 (Exempted Development) (No. 3) Regulations 2021, which concern planning exemptions for restaurants to maintain operations as takeaways for the remainder of 2021. That provision would have expired without these regulations. Second, we have the Planning and Development (Street Furniture Fees) Regulations 2021, which will waive section 254 of the street furniture licence fees for the remainder of 2021.
A third set of regulations, which do not require the approval of both Houses of the Oireachtas but about which I also want to advise the committee, is being progressed simultaneously and provides for the erection of awnings, coverings and other similar apparatus for outdoor dining to be a licensed activity under section 254 of the Planning and Development Act 2000, as amended, when it is linked with a street furniture licence for tables and chairs under that section. This means that we will take it out of the planning piece and put it in under section 254. This will mean that proposals for the installation of awnings, coverings - which we do need from time to time this country, as members will know - and other similar apparatus to facilitate outdoor dining will no longer be subject to planning permission and will instead be dealt with under the street furniture licensing regime in association with the provision of outdoor tables and chairs.
As we all are acutely aware, like many other sectors, the hospitality and restaurant sector and the wider tourism sector has suffered the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic both last year and this year. We want them to have a summer where they can make up for lost ground. They have been subject to both temporary closure and long-term closures for considerable periods. It has taken a very heavy toll on their own businesses and staff. I, as Minister, and the Government are committed to providing any necessary supports to assist these sectors as much as is possible with a view to facilitating recovery as the current Covid-19 restrictions are further eased and lifted. Big decisions are to be made this week with regard to the next phase from May onwards.
The two sets of planning regulations that I am presenting to the committee today, in conjunction with the third set of regulations that I have just mentioned on the provision of awnings and coverings, are practical measures that have merit, are within my remit, can be done and will help businesses. There is, thankfully, light at the end of the tunnel and with the further expedited roll-out of the vaccination programme and continued business supports, we want to ensure that those in particular in the hospitality and the food sector have an opportunity to recover and that any potential barriers are removed particularly for the summer. I propose that we then, later in the year, review these regulations further.
There is one permanent change on awnings and coverings and, second, the extension of the takeaway provisions for restaurants which will allow that to continue until the end of the year, together with the waiving of the fee for street furniture across the country.
In conclusion, I note that some local authorities have already done this which I welcome, but I want there to be no ambiguity across all of our local authority areas that businesses are not to be charged for street furniture and that there are now practical changes in the regulations. Hopefully we will have a good summer and when businesses open back up again they will be able to utilise the public space that we all enjoy for the safe reopening of their businesses. I thank the committee.