Restaurants are being ‘scapegoated’ over Covid-19, leading restaurateur says

Many restaurants will shut for good if they cannot reopen soon, Oireachtas committee hears

Outdoors dining in Dublin. Paul Treyvaud has said restaurants were being unfairly 		‘scapegoated’ with regards to the Covid-19 pandemic. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Outdoors dining in Dublin. Paul Treyvaud has said restaurants were being unfairly ‘scapegoated’ with regards to the Covid-19 pandemic. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

A leading restaurateur has told an Oireachtas committee that his industry is being unfairly “scapegoated” with regards to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Paul Treyvaud from Treyvaud’s Restaurant in Killarney, Co Kerry, told the committee that many pubs and restaurants will shut for good if they cannot reopen soon. “Yesterday’s announcement was like a dagger to the heart.

“We cannot allow 200,000 people in hospitality to sink. It feels like we literally have a knee on our neck at the moment.”

Mr Treyvaud was speaking on Wednesday a day after the Government announced that the general resumption of indoor services in restaurants and pubs that had been planned from July 5th was being postponed, with such services set to resume only for fully vaccinated customers once a workable vaccine pass system was in place.

Speaking to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport and Media on Wednesday afternoon, Mr Treyvaud said he has processed 500 cancellations for July and the first two weeks of August as a result of the indoor dining delay.

In relation to vaccine passes, Mr Treyvaud believes such a system will be very difficult to implement. “Who am I to ask someone at the front door of my restaurant if they are vaccinated? I may as well ask them what colour underpants they are wearing. It’s none of my business.”

He also worried this system would lead to a “discrimination factor”.

However, he added that if this was the only way for indoor dining to reopen, restaurant owners would have no choice but to implement these plans.

“Yesterday’s announcement was not what we were expecting . . . in the last 16 months, we have traded for three of those. We had six very busy weeks last summer.”

Treyvaud’s Restaurant did not reopen for the two weeks at Christmas for which indoor dining was allowed, due to the rising Covid-19 case numbers at the time. “Suppliers also told us they would not offer any credit for stock.”

Delta variant

Mr Treyvaud also questioned how the Delta variant arrived in the country, despite the fact the State had a mandatory hotel quarantine system. “Who is not doing their jobs here? We have done everything we have been told to do.”

He added that the situation is very different to last year due to the number of people who have been vaccinated.

Numerous TDs in attendance agreed with this assertion, with Fine Gael TD Brendan Griffin saying that he would like to see the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) briefing backbench politicians on their predictions on the possible progress of Covid-19. “To me the figures don’t add up.”

Mr Treyvaud said many pub and restaurant owners do not understand how indoor dining is allowed in hotels, but not in their premises, and many staff have been lost to hotels as a result of this.

However, he thinks hotels will also be affected by the Government’s latest moves, because people may cancel their week-long staycation if they can only eat indoors in their hotel.

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