Warning issued to ‘rogue operators’ in hospitality industry

Restaurant Association says those who ‘step out of line’ will face serious consequences

Restaurants Association of Ireland chief executive  Adrian Cummins said swift action will be necessary so the industry can remain fully open to customers into the future.

Restaurants Association of Ireland chief executive Adrian Cummins said swift action will be necessary so the industry can remain fully open to customers into the future.

 

“Rogue operators” within the restaurant industry who “step out of line” from new indoor dining guidelines will be closed down immediately, the chief executive of the Restaurants Association has warned.

Chief executive Adrian Cummins told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that swift action will be necessary so the industry can remain fully open to customers into the future.

“Businesses want to make sure they do the right thing across the board,” he said.

The sector is asking the Government for the protection of the State with inspections across the country, so that if any business steps out of line that they are closed down immediately, Mr Cummins added.

“That’s very important for our industry that all rogue operators are dealt with swiftly so that we can maintain our industry in an open manner into the future.”

Under draft guidelines on new regulations, drawn up last week, specially trained staff members must be in charge of a “defined and managed entrance point” to indoor hospitality settings.

A draft addendum to the guidelines, specifically addressing the issue of how admittance to venues will be handed, outlines how the entrance point must be “controlled by personnel who have been instructed” in the process of admitting people and checking proof of immunity.

The precise detail around how this process will be managed - especially for venues like food courts in shopping centres which do not have a dedicated entrance - has emerged as a sticking point in negotiations over the guidelines, which are set to continue on Tuesday.

“The key element relating to business is that the indoor operator has taken reasonable steps to ensure that no person other than a permitted person is admitted to a relevant indoor premises,” the draft guidelines state.

The guideline also envisage that, in order to manage customer flow, people leaving a premises - to go into a smoking area, for example - and re-entering using the main entrance will be provided with a “clearly identifiable non-transferable tag/stamp which must be returned/checked on re-entry”.

Hospital Report

Confirmed cases in hospital Confirmed cases in ICU
286 59
Total doses distributed to Ireland Total doses administered in Ireland
8,557,330 7,130,149

A template for capturing data on entry, which will form the basis of assessments by compliance officers, will also be developed and shared with industry.

The guidelines also envisage that both digital and print proofs of vaccination or infection-acquired immunity will be accepted for entrance to indoor dining and hospitality, but while the Digital Covid Certificate is to be among them, a definitive list is not yet available.

“At this stage, neither the detail on what will be an acceptable proof of immunity nor the detail on the compliance process has been agreed,” the document notes.

The document outlines that steps governing admittance will potentially include the business having to ensure all members of a party having a proof of immunity, with those unable to provide such being refused admittance or redirected to outdoor services.

Businesses will also have to take details for contact tracing and ensure relevant guidance on hand sanitising, wearing of masks and other measures are adhered to. When taking a booking, people will be told they need a relevant proof, and will be refused entry without it, but that under 18s accompanying their family do noot need one.

Mr Cummins said there were some outstanding issues that had to be finalised with officials during a meeting on Tuesday.

He said the point where customers will have to present their documents should be at the point of sale in certain premises. “We want to make sure that everybody is on board. It’s vital that when we reopen next week, that is the end, there’s no going back and we have to start with living with Covid into the future as an industry, as an economy and as a society.”

When asked about unvaccinated staff, Mr Cummins said that all staff were working within workplace protocols. There was no issue with unvaccinated staff within hospitality or any workplace, he said. “Indoor hospitality has been open since June 2nd for hotels across the country and there hasn’t been an issue with regard to that.”

Meanwhile, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has said he would be “happy” to book indoor dining in restaurants that sign up to new protocols, saying he believes it will be safe.

Implementation of the protocols under consideration by the Government and the hospitality sector will be “critical”, he said.

“Any restaurant that does meet these criteria and are safety implementing the protocol that is that is agreed by the Government, I would myself be happy to eat indoors and believe it would be safe to do so,” he said. “There is always going to be risk. There are always going to be issues that customers will need to be assured of.”

However, he said the new guidelines will be the “best chance of managing the risk.”

On the spread of the Delta variant and whether the reopening is a mistake Mr Donohoe said: “There’s no certainties with Covid-19. Unfortunately this disease has demonstrated to us that plans that are agreed are implemented in good faith can be changed by the way the disease itself can change.”

Asked if indoor hospitality may have to close again, Mr Donohoe reiterated that the protocols offer the best chance of managing risk and added: “We haven’t even got to the point of reopening indoor dining.

“So let’s give ourselves every chance of reopening indoor dining before we comment on what might happen after that.”

Separately, Mr Donohoe was asked about the pressure that the call centre fielding queries on the Digital Covid Certificate for international travel was under on Monday and the addition of a second line on Tuesday.

“I accept that the demand that it was facing was greater than the ability to deal with that demand and answer all the questions that were coming in.

“So by inference, we needed to put more resources against it and more support against it. And that’s why a second line has been opened.”