A CORK TD has called for Cabinet to consider “tweaks” to be made to restrictions in order to facilitate some indoor dining if the country reverts to level 3 next month.
Speaking in the Dáil, Fianna Fáil TD Christopher O’Sullivan welcomed the implementation of a VAT reduction for the tourism and hospitality sector but said that cutting the VAT rate will be no good to businesses if they cannot operate.
“The VAT reduction has been broadly welcomed by the tourism industry,” he said.
“It’s a massive step, along with the other measures for tourism, but the VAT reduction will only be effective for businesses that are in a position to reopen and trade.
“What I would like to see, and of course this is all pending figures, when we come out the other end of level 5 restrictions, I think it’s very important that we prepare for that instance,” Mr O’Sullivan said.
“We’ve seen the figures — thankfully they are going the right way and the R number is reducing — so if we’re talking about the start of December, maybe level 3 restrictions, we have to prepare now for that instance.
“We can’t see a situation where restaurants and pubs that serve food are relying on and solely on outdoor dining — that’s not practical in the middle of winter. Outdoor dining won’t be an option.
“What I’m asking for, and asking for the message to be brought back to Cabinet, is that we see a way that under level 3 restrictions, that they could be tweaked to allow some element of indoor dining, perhaps with a few extra measures in place that would allow that.
“That’s vital for the hospitality sector to be able to avail of the VAT reduction,” the Cork South West TD continued.
Ireland is set to emerge from level 5 restrictions on December 1, all going to plan, but a formal announcement on what level of restriction the country will move to has yet to be made.
Under level 3 restrictions, restaurants and cafes, including bars or pubs serving food, or ‘wet pubs’, may remain open for take-away and delivery and outdoor dining or service to a maximum of 15 people.
Speaking to The Echo, Mr O’Sullivan said he raised the issue in the Dáil following concerns expressed by café and restaurant-owners in his constituency.
“I would hope that Cabinet would consider tweaking level 3 restrictions to allow some indoor dining to take place in a safe manner, perhaps with extra spacing between tables; a cap on numbers — common-sense measures — if figures continue to drop,” said Mr O’Sullivan.