The Vintners Federation of Ireland said that such a plan is unworkable and that it will only increase pressure on publicans and their staff.
“The idea that only allowing the fully-vaccinated into hospitality venues is highly problematic and probably unworkable for a number of reasons” said VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribben, “not least how do publicans and their staff police such a policy?
“Government has consistently stated it would not introduce this type of measure so for it now to change course has left the pub trade reeling.
“Even some high-profile medical experts are questioning this approach, such as David Nabarro of the World Health Organisation who says if you use vaccine status as a requirement for entry, you’re also blocking out an awful lot of people from having any chance of participating,” he continued.
“The way Government has dealt with pubs over the past 15 months is shocking. So many reopenings postponed or delayed and now this unworkable plan that will create a two-tier society that can only lead to animosity towards publicans and their staff who are effectively being asked to become agents of the state.”
The Restaurants Association of Ireland believes this approach to be both discriminatory and illegal.
“Ireland is not currently technologically ready to operate the EU-approved Green Travel Certificate and yet there is a proposal to operate services based on vaccines at a national level,” commented RAI Chief Executive Adrian Cummins adding that, “Such a practice of refusing access to goods and services is currently illegal under equality acts.”
He also pointed out that the announced delay for pubs and restaurants is at odds with hotels and B&Bs which have been open now for almost a month.
“This makes no sense and will restrict indoor dining to those in the 40–60 age groups who’re fully-vaccinated whilst the hotel across the street has families and guests dining indoors since 2nd June,” he commented.
The LVA has also rejected any move to separate out the vaccinated from the non-vaccinated, describing the suggestion as “ridiculous” and “unworkable”.
T he Association’s Chief Executive Donall O’Keeffe accused NPHET of “having lost the run of themselves and possibly the entire country this time.
“It is completely bizarre that they would introduce such a system this late and basically try to panic the entire country into accepting a process that would create a two-tier society,” he said, “Does anyone in NPHET actually take into consideration the real world implications of these outlandish ideas at all? We can’t take them seriously after this.”
The Association stated that, “Any such system would put every pub, restaurant and café in the country in an impossible position and would also lead to unvaccinated staff being charged with having to police who can and can’t enter their premises”.
However the LVA has proposed that the reopening of indoor hospitality should be delayed until the 19th of July to allow for those in the 60-69 year demographic to receive additional vaccines.
This would also be in line with the date of the resumption of international travel. Pubs would then reopen with the current Social Distancing requirements and licensing hours that currently govern outdoor service, it suggested.
All open elsewhere
According to Padraig Cribben, there’s confusion and overwhelming anger among his members as to how pubs in the North can open safely for indoor trading since the 24th of May while the UK Government is removing all restrictions in the next three weeks stating that “we must learn to live with Covid”.
And he asks, “Why are we taking such a markedly different, more conservative, approach?
“Figures from the UK reveal that while case numbers are rising across Britain on a pro rata basis there are fewer hospital admissions, which is their green light for removing all restrictions. There’s nothing to suggest we’ll have a different experience so to increase restrictions here as the rest of Europe opens up is simply perverse.
Donall O’Keeffe added, “We can see that hotels across the country are operating at full capacity for indoor service since 2 June, that indoor service is permitted across the border and in every other EU state.”
The Association has also cast doubt on the projections publicised by NPHET last night, saying they need to be independently validated given the actual levels of hospitalisations and deaths in other countries where indoor hospitality is permitted and the Delta variant is circulating.
“It’s insane to contemplate that international travel would be permitted and yet indoor hospitality would not be allowed for all customers. Why is Irish hospitality being treated so differently? Anyone looking at other countries where indoor dining is already happening and where the Delta variant is circulating can see that level of hospitalisations and deaths outlined by NPHET simply aren’t happening. NPHET’s claims need to be independently validated urgently.
“Given NPHET’s track-record, we’ve no confidence they will recommend the reopening of hospitality this Summer.
“By 19 July there will be well over 4.5 million vaccines delivered and that should permit hospitality to reopen indoors. The Government must take charge now and commit to our reopening on 19 July,” concluded Donall O’Keeffe.
Padraig Cribben perhaps summarised the feelings and fears of the hospitality industry as a whole when he stated, “The Summer season is here and with no date for reopening indoors our members will be wondering how long it will take to implement a vaccine admission protocol. There will be huge concern this will become a talking shop with ongoing delays. Is that the actual desired outcome of Government and NPHET?
“As ever, we stand ready to engage with Government to find workable solutions to get hospitality open as soon as possible.”