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Hospitality reps ask for plan on lifting all Covid restrictions, including curfews

CEO of the Restaurants Association of Ireland Adrian Cummins has called for the limit on closing times to end from September onwards.

Updated Aug 4th 2021, 10:00 PM

HOSPITALITY REPRESENTATIVES HAVE asked the Government to produce a roadmap on how pandemic restrictions in their sector will be lifted in the next few months.

Ahead of the meeting, industry representatives had publicly called for the 11.30pm curfew to be scrapped by September.

This is part of a request made to Government by all hospitality representatives,  including trade unions, for a roadmap to fully reopen all hospitality businesses without restrictions over the next few months.

Officials said their is a wish for a roadmap at the end of August beginning of September.

Other issues were raised with Government, including a “big focus” on indoor hospitality from next week with as HSA and HSE inspections begin. The guidelines with regards to outdoors events have not changed.

Before the meeting, CEO of the Restaurants Association of Ireland Adrian Cummins called for the limit on closing times to end from September onwards. 

The association and other industry groups are due to meet with Government officials later this afternoon to discuss further easing of Covid-19 restrictions next month. 

Speaking to The Journal, Cummins said the association is looking for PCR and antigen testing to be used in order to allow unvaccinated people to dine indoors. 

“We want normal trading hours to resume from September and then we need to start a roadmap to winding down restrictions,” said Cummins. 

“We’re going to use this opportunity [today] to say to officials we don’t want a scenario where we’re getting guidelines late in the day.”

Speaking on Today with Claire Byrne this morning, Cummins said “all hospitality businesses across this country are trying to do the right thing during this pandemic and every hospitality business is under extreme pressure now to make sure they adhere to all the guidelines.”

“A statement needs to come out of the government to clarify what is acceptable and what is not,” he added.

Cummins said that hospitality businesses are confused about the current guidelines issued by Fáilte Ireland.

“We are getting calls by the dozen at the moment from business owners that are confused. They have turned away business since 2 June and they want to get an answer as soon as possible.”

Cummins said he also plans to raise the issue of pubs and restaurants being subject to campaigns of abuse for following rules on indoor dining. 

The Journal reported last week that some pubs and restaurants have been the subject of coordinated online abuse and fake reviews by those opposing the use of Covid-19 vaccine certs to attend indoor dining.

“We want to know what their plan is to tackle this,” said Cummins, ahead of today’s meeting. 

The RIA wrote to Garda Commissioner Drew Harris about the abusive campaigns last week saying “fake bookings and reviews are a malicious, concerted and coordinated campaign of fraudulent misrepresentation towards small businesses.”

In response, An Garda Síochána said that while it “sympathises greatly” with businesses experiencing the abuse “patrons not attending bookings does not constitute a criminal matter”.

“If your members are able to demonstrate that a coordinated campaign of negative reviews is occurring, then this should be brought to the attention of their local Garda station,” a spokesperson said. 

Speaking to The Journal, Cummins also described the current rules for only allowing fully vaccinated people to dine indoors as “extremely cumbersome” for businesses. 

“They’re very labour-intensive,” he said. 

committee 201 Adrian Cummins Source: Sam Boal

Under the rules, patrons are required to produce a copy of a Covid certificate to show they are either fully vaccinated or have recovered from the virus in the last six months.

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The EU Digital Covid Certificate (DCC) or the HSE Covid-19 Vaccination Record can be used for proof of vaccination status when entering pubs, restaurants, cafes or food courts.

There are no time limits on indoor dining but premises must be clear of all customers by 11.30pm.

More than 3,000 pubs reopened Monday of last week, with 25,000 staff signing off the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and heading back to work.

A spokesperson for the Vintners Federation of Ireland said today’s meeting will kick-start discussions on how the industry can fully return to normality over the coming months. 

The Government has indicated no further changes to indoor dining will take place during August. 

“We’re looking at the vaccination rates, what’s going to change when a certain percentage are vaccinated,” VFI spokesman Brian Foley said. “The goal and figure for a long time was 80% [fully vaccinated] so will that unlock further easing of restrictions and what will they be?”

Meanwhile, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has appealed to communities to wait a little longer before holding communions and confirmations amid reports that some services are still going ahead. 

McConalogue asked churches to follow the public health advice and to hold off on hosting the ceremonies.

Guidelines advise the public that baptisms, communions and confirmations should not take place. Baptisms can take place from August 5.

“I fully understand the frustration people feel. Like many people in the country, I have very strong memories myself of both communion and confirmation and it’s a very important day in everyone’s lives,” McConalogue said.

The public health advice is still very clear in relation to being cautious in relation to the advice around communions, and confirmation

The HSE confirmed on Tuesday that over 30,000 people attended Covid-19 vaccination walk-in centres across the country at the the weekend. HSE CEO Paul Reid said the number of people attending the centres outstripped expectations “by far”.

“All age groups went through but this initiative makes us beyond proud of younger people. When needed, they once again showed up in numbers,” Reid tweeted.

Many of those attending the centres were aged 16 and 17. Over 73% of adults in Ireland are now fully vaccinated, with 87% having received at least one dose.

Health officials yesterday confirmed 1,015 new cases of Covid-19 in Ireland. 

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) is due to meet today to discuss the ongoing epidemiological situation in Ireland and will report to Government following discussions this afternoon.

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