Cork business owners in the hospitality industry have expressed their concern about the possibility of indoor dining being delayed.
A decision is expected tomorrow on whether public health advice is for indoor hospitality to remain shut beyond July 5.
The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) is currently meeting to formulate its advice around the increased risk from the Delta variant.
A meeting of party leaders is expected tonight before Cabinet takes a decision on it tomorrow.
Catherine O'Riordan who co-owns Dan Lowrey’s Tavern on MacCurtain Street with her husband Anthony, questioned whether delaying the reopening of indoor dining for another one or two weeks would make a huge difference.
“I can’t see them [the Government] shoving it back beyond the end of July and I don’t think those two weeks are going to make any difference as such, apart of course for those who haven’t been able to open their doors yet and my heart really goes out to them,” she said.
Ms O’Riordan suggested that reopening as planned could go ahead if a rule was introduced which would see vaccinated people allowed to dine indoors and those not vaccinated continue to dine outdoors.
I would love to see even if the opening went ahead and if the fully vaccinated were able to get inside, we all have our cards to show that were vaccinated.
“Those who are fully vaccinated could go inside because they’re not a high risk and keep the outside dining and drinking for the foreseeable for those with the one vaccination and those who haven’t been vaccinated yet.
“Hotels can serve all of their guests inside and I can’t see the huge difference in having a fully vaccinated person coming to your premises and dining indoors.
“The bulk of the over 60s are done and it might give them more comfort and a bit more security,” she said.
She said that many business owners in the industry are now faced with the problem of not being able to hire staff.
“We have to give a think about that too. We’re lucky that we have very loyal staff and we kept them on the books with us so that we wouldn’t lose them but especially places that do big amounts of food, they’ll find it difficult to get staff to cover both indoors and outdoors,” she said.
Owner of Koto on Carey’s Lane, Jeffrey Hamidi, sought clarity from the Government on whether to prepare for indoor dining or not.
“At this stage, we are looking for some clarity. We need to know if we are opening for indoor dining or not. Between rostering staff, orders and bookings, there’s going to be a lot of shuffling.
“If the reopening of indoor dining is pushed back for two weeks, we’re lucky that we have outside space we can use.
We’re ok with a small pause with the view of not moving backwards in the future. Of course, this isn’t the case for everyone.
“So far the response to outdoor dining has been phenomenal, and going forward, the outdoor spaces will continue to be a part of restaurants and bars, and not just an afterthought,” he said.