Q&A: What guidelines were in place at time of Zappone gathering?

Controversy erupts over outdoor event for about 50 people at Merrion Hotel

Katherine Zappone held an outdoor gathering at a Dublin hotel in July. File photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

Katherine Zappone held an outdoor gathering at a Dublin hotel in July. File photograph: Gareth Chaney Collins

 

Controversy has erupted over an outdoor event for about 50 people hosted by former minister for children Katherine Zappone in Dublin’s Merrion Hotel on July 21st. But what were the guidelines in place at the time, what does the Government have to say about it and what does it mean for events like weddings and Communions?

Q: What is the Merrion Hotel’s position?

A: The Merrion Hotel has insisted that it has adhered to Government public health measures “at all times since the start of the pandemic” including guidelines that were in place at the time of the event on July 21st. It said regulations in place at that time allowed for outdoor events of up to 200 people. The hotel said that there have been “significant changes” to Fáilte Ireland’s guidelines since the event.

Q: What are the changes the Merrion is referring to?

A: The Merrion said at the time of Zappone’s function the guidelines made no reference to outdoor organised events. Organised indoor events were not allowed to proceed in a version of the guidelines last updated on July 1st but there was no reference to outdoor events being excluded. A later version of the guidelines updated a number of times from July 23rd onwards simply says: “Organised events are currently not permitted”.

Q: Anything else?

A: The Merrion also said the version of the guidelines in place as of July 21st did not include a rule against multiple tables being booked for an outdoor event. The guidelines did state that multiple tables could not be booked indoors at the time. The more recent guidelines simply say “multiple tables cannot be booked” for food and beverage service.

Q: What is the Government saying?

A: The Government said advice from the Attorney General says that regulations provide for organised outdoor events and gatherings of up to 200 people, including social, recreational, exercise, cultural, entertainment or community events.

Q: Does that mean weddings, Communions and Confirmations can go ahead with up to 200 people?

A: No. Wedding ceremonies and receptions are still limited to a maximum of 100 people from Thursday and the regulations surrounding outdoor events with 200 people specifically exclude them. Government advice remains that Communions and Confirmation should not take place at this time. The Government said updates will be made to guidelines on outdoor events.

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