Reacting to media reports that the Government is to limit restaurants and pubs that serve food to outdoor seating only as part of today’s regional restrictions for Dublin to be announced later today, the Association pointed out that this would mean that while most of Dublin would be on Level 3, restaurants and pubs that serve food would be on Level 4 and non-food pubs will be on Level 5.
Under the Government’s Resilience and Recovery 2020-2021 Plan for Living with Covid-19, it’s stated on Page 12 that in Level 3 there will be “Additional restrictions for indoor dining” for bars, cafés and restaurants while Level 4 specifies “Take away food or delivery. No indoor dining”.
The same page also states that ‘wet bars’ can remain open at Levels 2, 3 and 4 – it’s only at Level 5 that they’re limited to takeaway or delivery only as will be the case following the Government’s announcement they can’t ‘reopen’.
In light of the inconsistencies of approach, the LVA has accused the National Public Health Emergency Team and the Government of undertaking a “pick and mix approach” to the new national strategy which “renders it meaningless”.
The LVA also points to the lack of correlation between the NPHET advice focusing on the hospitality sector and the latest outbreak data published by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre. The HSPC data shows that there were zero open outbreaks associated with pubs and only five since the crisis began. In the case of restaurants and cafés there are eight open cases but only nine during the crisis. This compares to 61 open outbreaks in other workplaces (107 outbreaks in total) and 537 open outbreaks in private houses (2,077 outbreaks in total).
“If the Government proceeds with this and limits pubs and restaurants in Dublin to outdoor seating only” said LVA Chief Executive Donall O’Keeffe, “effectively they will have destroyed their own plan within three days of publishing it.
“They said this new plan was to offer the country and businesses certainty. At the announcement they said the country was at Level 2 but they were putting the non-food pubs of Dublin into Level 5 by keeping them closed. Now it looks like they are about to move most of Dublin to Level 3 but the pubs and restaurants will be put in Level 4.
“Effectively the Government and NPHET are adopting a pick and mix approach to the new national strategy which renders it meaningless. How is Irish society meant to function if the levels outlined in this plan are disregarded by its own authors within a matter of days?
“We would also seek clarity as to why NPHET and the Government are continuing to take action against the hospitality sector when the latest HSPC data clearly shows this isn’t where the problem lies.
“There are zero open outbreaks in pubs. Compare that with the number of outbreaks in other workplaces or private houses. Yet it’s pubs and restaurants who’ve abided by the regulations since the outset of this crisis which are the focus of additional restrictions. On what basis does that approach make sense? They are doing all they can to keep the pubs closed by default.
“At some point is NPHET going to be asked to justify these recommendations? Are they going to be allowed to continue to advocate the most draconian approach in the EU and it’s just accepted with limited critique? Or is NPHET the emperor’s new clothes which can’t be questioned?
“NPHET has an immense level of power in this country at the moment. Surely if they’re going to wield this level of influence and inflict damage of this level to certain sectors, then they should be held to account?” he concluded.