The LVA believes that the new measures are discriminatory and will lead to flashpoints between hospitality staff and potential customers. There also remain major question marks as to how it will be enforced and how hospitality businesses can demonstrate compliance.
The details around the phasing of the new system will also need to be clarified with the Government suggesting that guidelines on matters like hospitality businesses using an app to verify QR codes and the use of antigen testing are to follow at a later date.
The LVA believed it had no option but to go along with the new measures as the Government made it clear that the only alternative would be to keep pubs and hospitality businesses closed for indoor service until September or October at the earliest.
By the 26th of July some pubs will have been required to keep their doors shut for 496 consecutive days.
The LVA said that the issue of affordable ventilation for the hospitality sector should also be considered to improve public safety in indoor settings and to prevent future closures across the sector.
Meanwhile, the Association remains fully engaged with the Government Hospitality Working Group to highlight the issues for the trade with the Government’s approach and to press Government for clear and workable solutions.
“We don’t like this plan,” said LVA Chief Executive Donall O’Keeffe, “However it has been made explicitly clear to us that our options amount to either staying closed until at least September or October or go along with a deeply-flawed system.
“Pubs and hospitality businesses want to get open and based on what we’ve been told by Government this seems to be the only circumstances under which that will be permitted to happen. In this situation we don’t really feel like there’s an alternative for our sector.
“After the latest meeting of the working group our concerns remain. We believe the system is discriminatory and is going to lead to flashpoints as hospitality staff try to verify whether potential customers have been vaccinated or not. Our members are already reporting there’s real anger about this issue from customers. We’re also quite worried about how this system is going to be policed for both customers and the businesses themselves.
“We’ve continually made it clear to our members that all guidelines must be followed for the good of public health and that will remain the case. However, there are still serious questions about how this approach will operate in practice and time is pressing.
“We also believe that the Government must now clearly tackle and define the issue of affordable ventilation for indoor settings once and for all. This is an airborne virus so it stands to reason that solutions will ultimately need to include some measures in this area which will improve public safety and prevent future closures across our sector. Some experts have suggested that there are affordable measures available and if that is the case this is something that should be utilised.
“Critically, we sought clarification on the public heath guidelines that will apply given that all indoor customers will be vaccinated. We also need to know the detail of the further phasing of the reopening of the pub sector as the vaccine rollout advances,” he concluded.