A Dublin city venue at the centre of a controversy over alleged breaches of coronavirus guidelines remained shut on Sunday after owner Jay Bourke said staff had received death threats.
Videos shared on social media claim to show a brunch event that took place at Berlin D2 on Dame Lane on Saturday. Customers are shown crowding around a bar as a man dancing on it, while wearing a mask, pours drink into their mouths.
Mr Bourke, a well-known restaurateur and publican, said he was “embarrassed and mortified” by what had been posted on social media, but said he was satisfied it was a “rogue incident” during a four hour event.
“I have reviewed the CCTV footage and I am happy in general that what was going on was ok. There was a rogue incident, and I am not happy about that, and that is our responsibility,” he said.
Restaurant and pub bodies condemned the bar for appearing to flout the Covid-19 rules, with the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) saying Berlin D2 should be "immediately" shut.
Mr Bourke said the reaction to the incident on social media was “extreme” and very troubling and had resulted in his decision not to open the venue on Sunday.
“People are using social media to execute justice and have made death threats against my staff. I am not going to ask people to work when their lives are being threatened,” he said, adding that he had not yet decided when the venue would reopen.
Berlin D2 began trading again six weeks ago after Covid-19 restrictions were eased, Mr Bourke said. He said staff were trained and adhering to social distancing and other Covid-19 regulations, there had been no overcrowding and “the place has been sterilised to within an inch of its life”.
He said he had not been contacted by the Garda in relation to the event on Saturday, but the venue had been regularly inspected by gardaí and health authorities and found to be compliant.
“That video does not look good. I am a veteran publican and nightclub operator, I take my job seriously and have a very good safety record,” he said.
‘Slap in the face’
Restaurants Association of Ireland chief executive Adrian Cummins described the scenes from the bar which appeared on social media as "deplorable and despicable". He said the scenes were a "slap in the face" to frontline workers and other hospitality businesses.
The LVA said the footage posted online from the bar was “outrageous and appalling”. It said there was a “clear need for inspections across the hospitality sector to ensure compliance with guidelines and licensing conditions.”
The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said the vast majority of Irish people have sacrificed a huge amount to help suppress this virus. “They’ve shown huge solidarity. People are rightly sickened by these scenes. The reckless actions of a small few can have huge repercussions on everyone else,” he wrote on Twitter.
An Garda Síochána said it would not be providing details on individual suspected breaches of the public health regulations.
"Where potential breaches of the Public Health Regulations are identified and where a person does not come into compliance with the regulations, a file is submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions for a direction as to how to proceed," a spokesman said.