Many hospitality businesses will not reopen fully next week, industry group says

Only those who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 in the last six months will be allowed to dine inside premises.
Many hospitality businesses will not reopen fully next week, industry group says

By Cate McCurry, PA

Restaurants are facing a staffing “crisis” ahead of the reopening of indoor hospitality next week, according to the chief executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, Adrian Cummins.

Speaking to RTÉ's The Business, he said around 25 per cent of bars and restaurants will not reopen fully on Monday.

Mr Cummins said this estimate, “a gut feeling”, is based on speaking to members who do not want to operate under the new Government guidance.

The long-awaited guidelines for indoor hospitality were published late on Friday night, leaving publicans and restaurateurs with only two days to implement the comprehensive plans.

Only those who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 in the last six months will be allowed to eat and drink indoors.

The rules state every restaurant and pub will have to record the details of every customer entering the premises for contact tracing.

Personal details will have to be produced alongside a copy of a Covid certificate to show they are either fully vaccinated or have had the virus.

All patrons, expect those under the age of 18, will be required to provide their name and phone number. The data will be kept for 28 days and must be compliant with GDPR.

The information will be recorded for both walk-ins and pre-bookings.

Mr Cummins said he believed that if the guidelines prove unworkable next week then the regulations may need to be revisited.

Meanwhile, Padraig Cribben, the chief executive of the Vintners Federation, also said not all premises will reopen on Monday.

He said some establishments have already made the decision to continue providing outdoor service only.

“A lot of these business haven't been open for 16 months. There's an amount of tension there, expectation, excitement but there is also an amount of trepidation and fear as well,” said Mr Cribben.

Industry frustration

The guidelines have caused frustration in the hospitality industry as previous rules required only one person to provide contacts details on behalf of a group.

The EU Digital Covid Certificate or the HSE Covid-19 Vaccination Record can be used for proof of vaccination status when entering pubs, restaurants, cafes or food courts.

Published by Fáilte Ireland, the guidelines also state that a maximum of six people over the age of 13 are allowed at each table.

The limit of six does not include children aged 12 or younger.

The total combined capacity at a table cannot exceed 15.

Customers can avail of table service, however cannot approach or order from the bar or other counter.

They are required to wear face coverings at all times other than when seated at their table.

Musical performance, dancing or other entertainment or mingling between tables is not allowed, while multiple tables cannot be booked.

Entrance points to bars and restaurants will be covered by staff who will use a scanner to check the vaccination status of each customer.

There are no time limits on indoor dining, however premises must be clear of all customers by 11.30pm.

'Inconvenient'

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar acknowledged the new system will be “inconvenient” for businesses, but he said it is the only way to reopen indoor dining.

“The restrictions being applied to this reopening are designed to be a temporary measure, and hugely important for the sector and their customers,” he said.

“I know that operating this new system will be inconvenient for business and could add to staff costs.

Leo Varadkar
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the guidelines represent the only way the sector can reopen. Photo: PA

“It is, however, the only way we can reopen and stay open throughout this Delta wave.

“Hopefully it will not be necessary in a few months’ time, but it is good to have it in place in case it is.

“There will be teething problems and we will work with the industry to review and amend the regulations as needed and based on practical experience.”

Catherine Martin, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, said: “I am acutely aware of the devastation the necessary public health restrictions have had on tourism and hospitality businesses since March 2020 with many unable to open at all.

“Throughout this period the businesses and the people working in the sectors have made huge sacrifices which have benefited society at large.”

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