Hospitality sector critical of plan intended to get it open again

“We don’t like this plan,” but option was to stay closed, says Vintners Association chief

Licensed Vintners’ Association chief executive Donal O’Keefe described the new measures as ‘discriminatory’. File photograph: Gareth Chaney

Licensed Vintners’ Association chief executive Donal O’Keefe described the new measures as ‘discriminatory’. File photograph: Gareth Chaney

 

Industry groups representing restaurants and pubs have voiced concerns about aspects of the Government’s reopening plan for indoor dining.

Under the current plan, those who are vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 in the past six months will have to show proof of this to access indoor hospitality.

The rollout of the Government’s new Digital Covid Certificates (DCC) has now begun and these can be used as evidence by members of the public. Close to 2 million DCCs are being issued this month through both email and post.

“We don’t like this plan,” said Donal O’Keeffe, chief executive of the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA), the trade association for publicans in Dublin.

However, he said the group did not feel there was an alternative, saying: “It has been made explicitly clear to us that our options amount to either staying closed until at least September or October or go along with a deeply flawed system.”

The group cited “significant concerns” around how the new system is to be implemented.

“Discriminatory”

The new measures were “discriminatory” and would “lead to flashpoints as hospitality staff try to verify whether potential customers have been vaccinated or not,” Mr O’Keeffe said.

There remained “serious questions” around how the plan will be enforced and how hospitality businesses will demonstrate compliance, he said.

The LVA has also said that the issue of affordable ventilation for the hospitality sector should be considered to improve public safety in indoor settings and to prevent future closures across the sector.

A spokesman for the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland, which represents pubs outside Dublin, told The Irish Times “a number of concerns” were flagged by the hospitality sector regarding the reopening guidelines published by Fáilte Ireland.

Among the issues put to Government representatives at a meeting included what protocol would be in place when a customer arrives at the pub door with a vaccine pass, how the pass would be authenticated, and who, ultimately, is responsible for policing the protocols, the spokesman said.

There would be a further engagement with Government representatives in the next 48 hours, he added.