INDOOR dining for the fully vaccinated could be “the final straw” for many young people as concerns have been raised about the impact of the Government's proposals.
Following Tuesday’s announcement on the plans for a system to verify vaccination or immunity for indoor dining when it is reintroduced, UCC student Harry McCann said he does not believe “any thought or consideration” has been given to the impact on young people.
“It shows once again that young people seem to be an afterthought for the Government.”
The 22-year-old said that most people working in bars, restaurants and cafes are young or students. “They’re underpaid, overworked and now they’re going to be unvaccinated, trying to facilitate vaccinated people in places that are confined,” he said.
The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) today met with the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and senior Government ministers to reiterate the view of publicans across the country that any plan to allow only vaccinated people access to indoor hospitality is not practical and will place publicans and their staff in an impossible position when dealing with customers. The VFI is also demanding that pubs reopen no later than July 19.
Speaking at the Hospitality and Tourism Forum, VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribben, said the VFI will work with Government to get pubs open but that any plan that placed the onus on publicans to check a customers’ vaccination status would be unworkable.
According to the VFI, the Government committed to set up a small group to quickly establish a working solution to allow the sector to re-open.
The Government confirmed on Tuesday that drinking and eating inside bars and restaurants will be delayed for several weeks. It had been due to resume on July 5.
The Government said it will devise an implementation plan for the controversial plans by July 19.
The Taoiseach insisted he does not want to divide people or society as he defended the Government's decision.
Micheál Martin said "whether we like it or not", the Delta coronavirus variant is far more transmissible and creates risks.
He told the Dáil that modelling produced by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) is "stark" in relation to case numbers, hospitalisations, intensive care occupancy, and deaths for July, August and September.
Mr Martin said the Government has reopened schools, childcare, sport, construction, outdoor hospitality and retail over the last few months.
"The decision...is to protect all that," he added. "It is to protect that and to protect people, not to divide people and divide society.
"I understand how difficult this has been for young people. I know it. It has affected their college life and their work.
"The threshold that has been set in respect of vaccination for hospitality is a very high one that will prove very challenging."
Well-known Cork publican Benny McCabe said the concept “can’t work on many levels” and said we need to go back to the drawing board.
“You have a situation where young people unvaccinated are sound to work alongside me serving vaccinated people and then they’re not allowed have a pint indoors themselves.”
Mr McCabe said while he does not speak for his workers, he certainly will stand up for them.
“I just think it’s ridiculous. I know everybody is trying to do the right thing but sometimes to do the right thing, you need to take a step back. It’s kind of crazy.”
He added: “Last year, you were singling out the old men because you wanted to charge them €9 for meals when they got a pint which meant that if you could afford it, you were grand but if you couldn’t, well screw you. We’ve gone the opposite now; we’re penalising the youth.”
Mr McCabe asked: “Are we all in this together?”
Solidarity TD Mick Barry said: “It seems that the government are lining up a situation here where you’re going to have young, unvaccinated workers working in the pubs and the restaurants, serving customers who have been vaccinated while the majority of people who are unvaccinated are on the outside looking in.
“This plan is shot through with contradictions and I think that they are taking young people and young workers for granted.”