Berlin D2 bar ‘sorry’ for Covid-19 guideline breaches at brunch event

Dublin District Court hears Customs officials asked if they wanted to stay beyond permitted time in venue


Management of Dublin’s Berlin D2 bar have apologised in court for breaking Covid-19 social distancing guidelines during a “boozy brunch” event last year.

A video was shared on social media of the August 15th event at the Dame Street venue showing a staff member on a bar pouring shots into dancing customers’ mouths.

Gardaí obtained CCTV footage of the event and lodged licence objections at Dublin District Court. Judge Marie Quirke has now examined the evidence and the bar, operated by Trillium Leisure Ltd, is contesting the application.

The hearing resumed on Wednesday with barrister Dorothy Collins, for the venue, telling the court that businessman Jay Bourke was no longer involved in running the bar.

The defence pointed out that no law was broken but it conceded that guidelines were breached regarding social distancing, the wearing of masks at all times and drinks being served at the counter rather than tables.

Tony McGillicuddy BL, for An Garda Síochána, submitted that the venue was more concerned about social media reaction than public health risks.

Berlin D2 manager Stephen McCusker said two staff were suspended for a week after the event. He said 46 people attended over two sittings on the day, arriving intermittently. He said he was helping in the kitchen, was out of public view and left at 3pm. He accepted there were breaches of social distancing guidelines “absolutely, and I apologise for that.”

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Customs officers Deirdre Furlong and Audrey Murphy told the court that they booked a table for a meal to check compliance at the venue on September 10th. After reaching the maximum stay of 90 minutes, they were asked if they wanted to stay longer. They were told they could start a new tab because guards were carrying out checks. Mr McCusker agreed he had spoken to them and did not challenge their evidence.

Front of house manager John Duggan said he tried to prevent customers leaving designated areas and to usher them back to their tables. He said he reprimanded the staff member who got onto the bar and started pouring drinks.

“I made mistakes that did not fully reflect my management style, I would do a lot of things differently, and I’m sorry,” he said.

Mr Duggan said he did not bring any concerns to Mr McCusker, his line manager, about the lack of adherence to social distancing guidelines.

Trillium Leisure Ltd director Fiona Kelly did not reply when asked if she was concerned it could have been a Covid-19 super-spreader event. She accepted that the risks increased if there was not compliance with guidelines.

Judge Kelly will give her ruling on May 26th.