Little improvement in Covid cert compliance in pubs and restaurants

HSE inspectors find 28% of premises partially or fully non-compliant

HSE spokewoman says checks are being undertaken without prior notification, across all counties and at all times of the day/night and at weekends.  Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty

HSE spokewoman says checks are being undertaken without prior notification, across all counties and at all times of the day/night and at weekends. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty

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There has been little improvement in the number of hospitality businesses complying with Covid-19 certificate regulations over the past month, despite a renewed push by health authorities.

Officers from the HSE’s Environmental Health Service have since October 22nd carried out 4,445 checks on bars, cafes, nightclubs and restaurants. They found 72 per cent were in compliance with the regulations, an increase of 2 per cent since the start of November.

About 6 per cent of venues checked were found to be fully “non-compliant” (down 1 per cent) and 22 per cent were found to be partially non-compliant (down 1 per cent).

A HSE spokeswoman said the service had “re-focused its efforts on increased compliance checks across the hospitality sector in recent weeks” in light of the increase in Covid-19 cases and the extension of indoor dining regulations from October 22nd.

“Checks are being undertaken without prior notification, across all counties and at all times of the day/night and at weekends,” she said.

Most compliance checks are carried out by HSE inspectors, but the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) has to date carried out 1,466 checks.

It has found that 96 per cent of inspected premises had some sort of system in place to check the immunity status of customers. However, some 10 per cent (146) of premises had received an “enforcement action” from the authority, which can range from verbal or written advice to prohibition notices.

“The focus of the compliance checks is on supporting the relevant indoor operators to understand their responsibilities of ensuring only permitted persons who have provided a proof of immunity dine or drink indoors,” the HSA said.

“Where additional measures or non-compliances were identified, appropriate follow-up and engagement is being undertaken by the authority’s compliance officers.”

ESRI research

The results of the compliance checks tally with research from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI). The latest ESRI social activity measure, which covered the period from November 16th to 23rd, found that despite an increase in the proportion of people dining indoors, there had been no increase in how often Covid-19 vaccine certs were checked.

Some 27 per cent of those sitting indoors in pubs and restaurants had reported since August that their Covid certs were not checked, with the corresponding number for cafes being 32 per cent.

Fully vaccinated people are more likely to visit a cafe, pub or restaurant, but unvaccinated people who go to cafes, pubs or restaurants tend to visit slightly more premises, the study says.

Overall, members of the public appear to be more conscious of Covid-19 in the community, with a “small but significant” increase in caution and a reduction in close contacts.

“More people now are engaging in mitigative behaviours [keeping their distance, washing hands and wearing masks] than at the start of November,” the ESRI found.

“The increase is not extensive, but the percentage of the population who report engaging in these behaviours most of the time has returned to its highest level since May. Meanwhile, there has been a drop in the percentage who report rarely or never engaging in these behaviours.”