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Leo Varadkar says gardaí and security companies could check if pubs are following Covid rules

Speaking in Brussels today, he said the Government was looking at further options to ensure Covid rules were being followed.

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PRIVATE SECURITY FIRMS could play a role in checking that hospitality businesses are adhering to the regulations governing Covid certificates, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said.

Speaking in Brussels today, he said the Government was looking at further options to ensure Covid rules were being followed.

“Obviously the gardaí can be involved because it is a criminal offence not to enforce the law system,” Varadkar said.

“We’re looking at involving the Private Security Agency as well because they’re involved in regulating bouncers, people at the door, and they’re out in the evening so they might be part of the solution as well.

“But really what I would say to the industry (is) you‘ve been closed for 600 days and we want you to stay open. The best way to do that is by making sure that you run a good house, and that means enforcing the Covid pass,” he said.

Varadkar also said “nobody can rule out” the reintroduction of pandemic restrictions.

“I’ve always been clear that I thought we’d have to get through at least another winter before we could say that the pandemic was safely behind us.

“So, nobody can rule out a return to restrictions. But we do have 800 more beds in our hospital system than we had before the pandemic, we have surge capacity in ICUs, we have the ability, if needs be, to use the private hospitals,” he added.

“It is possible for us to ride out this wave, to get through this second peak of Delta without having to reimpose restrictions, but that can’t be guaranteed unfortunately,” he said.

The Tanaiste also said that things may not return to the “old normal” until next spring.

“That involves people trying to do their daily activities but take precautions as necessary,” Varadkar added.

“The simplest thing is to tell people to stay at home, the second easiest is to go back to normal, the bit in between which is risk litigation and reducing is a bit more difficult and that’s a challenge we have.”

Returning to nightclubs

He said he hoped to return to a nightclub this side of Christmas “if things improve”.

“I’m not going to tell people what they should or shouldn’t do, I don’t think that’s the right message at the moment,” he added.

“What I would say to people is that if they are going to a nightclub over the weekend, what I would say is that if you’re symptomatic, don’t,” he said.

“If you’re not vaccinated, don’t go. Make sure that you wear masks as appropriate while walking around, and consider taking an antigen test as well,” he told reporters.

The Taoiseach, who is also in Brussels for the EU Council meeting said: “The bottom line is this, to avoid any new restrictions coming in, to avoid going back, we will demand vigilance on behalf of the people generally, all of us. Therefore when we go to establishments we should at least, as a minimum, insist that the basic standards have been applied and the consumer power can be very strong in that regard.”

He also said that gardaí should back the agencies involved in checking and monitoring the hospitality sector.

“I think fundamentally the operators need to engage and make sure there is compliance, as well as the public, that’s ultimately how you get the highest critical mass level of compliance that we require here, because the situation in relation to Covid is deteriorating across Europe with quite a number of member states,” Martin added.

“We’re in a better position as we have a higher level of vaccination. We are concerned about what is happening in the UK, the numbers are going up there.”

He made the comments as new safety guidelines for nightclubs and live events are to be published today ahead of the reopening of nightclubs on Friday.

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People going to nightclubs will be asked to show their Covid pass, and will have to wear a mask apart from when they are eating, drinking and dancing.

Martin said he was concerned about the increase in numbers, adding that they have risen significantly in the last two weeks.

“We had numbers yesterday of 2,300, those are very high numbers that prior to the vaccination era would have necessitated a lockdown. So we are worried about those numbers,” Martin added.

“I’m primarily worried about those numbers in respect of the impact on human life and health, and that’s the bottom line. So we all have to really collectively behave, because if the virus goes unchecked, it does impede our capacity to go about normal life as we would like.”

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