Hospitality industry lobby groups are up in arms about their members potentially being landed with responsibility for checking customers’ vaccination status to dine indoors. They described the proposal by Nphet as “discriminatory” and “unworkable”, in the wake of the decision this week by the Government to postpone the planned July 5th reopening date for indoor hospitality trade.
However, the tourism and hospitality industry was far less opposed to the concept earlier in the year, when it was first mooted as a way to speed up the reopening of the sector, before it was later rejected by the Government. Back then, the industry seemed in favour of it.
In early March, an opinion article by a journalist from The Irish Times called for the implementation of a vaccine pass system for the hospitality trade, on the basis that it would facilitate trade and prevent many businesses from going bust needlessly.
The article was approvingly tweeted by an executive from the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation (Itic), who also highlighted a quote from the piece that said it was "unfair to deprive businesses of trade that could keep them afloat… now is the time for us to do whatever it takes to bring respite".
Itic is an umbrella group that includes the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI), which this week said that "any plan that placed the onus on publicans to check a customers' vaccination status would be unworkable". Itic's membership also includes the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI), which has itself also expressed support for a vaccine pass system in the past.
Yet this week, the RAI criticised the concept and questioned its legality.
It is understandable that the industry is worried about having an indoors vaccine pass foisted upon it at the last moment, when it had been expecting full reopening. But it may well be in the hospitality sector’s best interests to work with the Government on designing such a system. It won’t last forever.