‘We’re totally abandoned’: Young people on the delay to indoor dining

People in their 20s say Government move to only allow vaccinated to dine indoors is unfair

Joan Hurley (left) with her daughter Jessica

Joan Hurley (left) with her daughter Jessica

 

Jessica Hurley (22) from Kill, Co Kildare has turned away people who were not resident in the hotel where she works, but who wanted to book an indoor table for a meal.

“It’s disheartening having to say no. It’s unfair to have to pay for a hotel to be able to eat indoors,” said Hurley, “There could be a restaurant or cafe beside where I work who would not be able to open. It’s quite unfair.”

Delighted to be back at work at the Killashee House Hotel, Hurley said: “The hotel is full almost all the time. There’s a lot of new staff. It’s been great being back up and running and chatting with customers.”

The decision by the Government to accept the National Public Health Emergency Team’s (Nphet) advice not to reopen hospitality on July 5th will result in more people “drinking in the streets, and reckless behaviour”, she believed.

“Yes not everyone is vaccinated but the majority of those at risk have at least one jab. You can’t justify not having it open anymore,” Hurley told The Irish Times.

“I’m delighted people are getting vaccinated and the way they’re rolling it out is correct but it’s going to end up with animosity if only vaccinated people can eat indoors,” she went on.

Instead, she suggested that the Government should have been willing to try “a trial and error phase” for a few weeks from July 5th with vaccinated people being allowed to eat, or drink inside: “They could be a bit more experimental.”

Her mother, Joan said young people are perfectly aware of the risks posed by the Covid-19 Delta variant, but “there doesn’t seem to be any serious problem” coming from hotel bookings since the partial reopening.

“I think everyone should be able to dine indoors at this stage. There’s a huge drive for people to have the vaccination. We really are on top of it,” she said, “Anyone I’ve spoken to really thinks it would be okay for anyone to eat indoors”

‘Indoor is more controlled’

Meanwhile, Aoife McGovern (23) from Castlesize, Sallins, Co Kildare, working currently at the Lock 13 gastropub in Sallins, believes that public health rules could be easier to manage indoors, rather than outside.

“People that are outdoor dining, everyone is running over to everyone’s table, people are mingling in groups bigger than six. I feel if it’s indoors it’s more controlled, because it’s a confined space we can actually monitor,” she said.

In theory, people should be able to dine, or drink indoors if they are fully vaccinated, or have a negative PCR test, she said: “But how are Ireland going to manage to do that? People are just going to start borrowing vaccination cards.”

“How is that going to work if your server is unvaccinated and you are vaccinated? Are they going to start vaccinating the hospitality staff? They don’t have clear plans about anything. They have to do what they have to do.”

However, Sarah Flanagan (22), also from Sallins, was more sanguine: “I am quite upset about it, but I try to remember that if the worst thing going on in my life is that I can’t indoor dine it’s not too bad.”

“It’s frustrating that I can’t eat indoors, but if in the long run things will pay off I can live with the restrictions for another month if it means less people will get sick or die,” she said.

In Drumcondra in Dublin, Joe Keenan (20) said he felt a mixture of “anger, disgust and disbelief” that the reopening plan has been delayed, especially since hotels are open for a month and 50 people will be able to attend weddings.

“Anyone that doesn’t have an outdoor setting for their pub, or restaurant has basically been told to go and shove it by the Government,” he said. “The Government has abdicated the social contract effectively.

“We’ve been told that we’re all in this together, [that] we need to keep people safe. As soon as the vaccines come along and young people haven’t been offered one, we’re just totally abandoned. So, it’s not great. Is it?”

The Government’s public health argument that the Delta variant is significantly more transmissible is discredited, he argued, since unvaccinated young people will end up serving vaccinated older people indoors.

On holiday with her family in Galway, Emma Fry (18) from Mullingar, Co Westmeath, said: “Honestly, I’m a little upset because me and my friends can’t go anywhere. My town is small, so [young people] don’t have much to do other than go to the pub.”