‘Unfair’ to penalise sectors because some not getting vaccinated, publicans say

Doubt has been cast over the planned easing of almost all restrictions from Friday of next week

Pilot night club event at the Button Factory in Dublin. Photograph: Karl Magee

Pilot night club event at the Button Factory in Dublin. Photograph: Karl Magee

 

Publicans have said it would be unfair to penalise entire sectors because “some people are opting to remain unvaccinated”.

“It doesn’t seem in any way proportionate that entire sections should be penalised because some people are choosing not to take the vaccine. Already this speculation is having an appalling impact on businesses, staff and suppliers who were all focused on reopening in a week’s time,” said Licensed Fintners Association (LVA) chief executive Donall O’Keeffe.

Doubt has been cast over the planned easing of almost all restrictions from Friday of next week , including the reopening of nightclubs and requirement to provide proof of vaccination or immunity to access events.

Under the current roadmap for the reopening of society, most remaining restrictions are due to be eased from October 22nd.

These include requirements for physical distancing, requirements for mask wearing outdoors and indoors in private settings, and limits on numbers at indoor and outdoor events and activities.

Restrictions on religious or civil ceremonies would also be permitted to resume without limits on numbers under the plan, as well as limits on numbers that can meet in private homes or gardens.

Certification or vaccination, immunity or testing as a prerequisite for access to events, with exception of international travel, would no longer be required under the plan, and high-risk activities like nightclubs would be allowed to resume.

Measures that would remain in place regardless of a full reopening would include self isolation when we have symptoms and mask wearing in healthcare settings, indoor retail and public transport.

However, a full reopening is now in doubt as escalating covid infections and risks to the health system have caused concerns among officials.

Senior officials and political aides were on Wednesday briefed by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) that the path of infection had taken an unexpected negative turn, and that all key indicators of the disease were now performing badly.

“Late night venues such as nightclubs and late bars are yet to reopen. The rest of our sector is still operating under severe restrictions, even though indoor service is limited to those who have been vaccinated,” Mr O’Keeffe said.

The budget arithmetic would “need to be reworked” if there are any further delays, he added, as the supports for the sector were based on the full resumption of activity.

The Taoiseach said the trajectory of the disease had taken a ‘wrong turn’ and there was no guarantee almost all restrictions would be lifted on October 22nd as planned.

With nightclubs among the ‘high-risk activities’ due to resume from October 22nd, a nightclub operator in Dublin has said he is devastated at the lack of clarity about the reopening of the industry next week.

Ian Redmond runs the Tramline nightclub in the city centre, which has been closed for 581 days, since March 2020.

Speaking on RTE’s Morning Ireland, he said “We are just devastated… the amount of work that has gone into this… I just want certainty and clarity from the Government, we deserve this,” he said.

“It is just not fair,” he added.

Meanwhile, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said it was “a little less likely” that there would be a widespread return to the workplace on October 22nd.

“We will have to see where we are with the disease,” he told the Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk.

It is understood that no official decisions have been made yet as to the plans for reopening.