The Statutory Instrument, signed into law by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly yesterday without industry consultation, requires pubs and restaurants to “retain and make available” all customers’ food orders for 28 days.
The new temporary legislation requiring restaurants and pubs serving food to “make a record of the substantial meal or meals ordered” by each member of a party of guests in the pub or restaurant and to keep this data for 28 days, is being challenged by the trade, with the Licensed Vintners’ Association and the Restaurants Association of Ireland writing to the Data Protection Commissioner asking for an urgent review of this temporary new law.
The introduction of the new legislation, just published without any industry consultation and with immediate effect, is “bureaucracy gone mad” and will add a huge burden to already struggling businesses according to the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland.
“This is crazy stuff,” said VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribben, “The idea that a pub must record all food ordered by each customer and then store it for 28 days is bureaucracy gone mad.
“Not only is it too impractical for our members to implement but why does the Government think this law will help in the fight against Covid? It’s madness.
“We’re all for making customers feel safe in our pubs but this new measure only increases pressure on staff already coping with a host of new safety measures.
“This is part of a Statutory Instrument introduced by the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly without any consultation with the hospitality sector. It’s obvious that both the Minister and his department have little understanding of the practical implications of this new law.”
Statutory Instrument 326 also confirms that a closing time of 11.30pm applies to pubs serving food.
The introduction of the SI has been heavily criticised too by TDs such as Labour leader Alan Kelly who told Morning Ireland that the new legislation was “completely bonkers” and that it should be reversed.
“I worry about this Cabinet thinking going forward and we need a government that maintains public confidence,” he stated.
Other TDs such as Fianna Fáil Junior Minister Anne Rabbitte described at as “a step too far”.
She stated that the government was now “filing work on top of work on top of work for businesses. It is ridiculous”.
Similarly, Fianna Fáil’s Marc MacSharry described the new legislation as “authoritarian and unnecessary”.
Last night, he too called on the Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil ministers to reverse the legislation, branding it a “Stasi” move that risks turning Ireland into a police state.
According to Carlow-Kilkenny Fiánna Fáil TD John McGuinness, “It’s asking a bit much of a sector that has suffered without any income for the last six months to be burdened with a huge amount of bureaucracy which should be simplified”.
Galway West Fiánna Fáil TD Éamon Ó Cuív believes that the regulation placed a “huge layer of bureaucracy” on business and felt that there was a need to debate the issue which, he said, was trying to “create safety by more bureaucracy” and was not the way to go.
“The biggest worry I have is that we’re losing the big picture – and the support of the people – by having an overly-legalistic approach,” he stated, “And we may not be gaining ground in terms of public health.”