The Taoiseach has said that the potential return of indoor dining and pubs is dependent on the Delta variant’s impact on Ireland’s case numbers, hospitalisation numbers and the progress of Ireland’s vaccine programme.
Speaking with Claire Brock on Virgin Media, Micheàl Martin was asked about the growing concern that publicans and restauranteurs are having about the planned reopening on July 5.
Aside from concerns that indoor service will be halted, those in the industry are also asking the Government to provide them with an adequate time period to best prepare for the weeks ahead.
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“I’ve consistently said that if anything is reopened, we want to keep it open for good. The Chief Medical Officer has said that he is concerned with the Delta variant but no decisions have been taken yet in response to the Delta variant or the news yesterday of a higher incidence of the Delta variant in Ireland,” said the Taoiseach.
The Fianna Fail leader added: “We’re watching what’s happening in the United Kingdom and other European countries in terms of its impact and critically, the metric of the link between the Delta variant and rising case numbers and hospitalisation numbers.
“Does it result in significant more hospitalisations or not? Then we have the vaccination programme which is rolling out very effectively. For example, this week 317,000 vaccines will be administered. Next week, close to the same are set to ve administered. That’s a massive protection that will have a positive effect on more people.”
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Irelands publicans are calling on the Government to make a decision on the reopening of indoor hospitality this week, saying an announcement made on July 2 will be too late if reopening is to take place on July 5.
Padraig Cribben, Chief Executive of the Vintners Federation of Ireland, said: There are just eight weeks in the summer season for pubs to recoup some of the massive losses accumulated over the past 15 months, so to tell publicans they may lose any of those weeks will devastate the trade.
The business generated in July and August will sustain most pubs through the winter and into next year so for Government to delay reopening during the summer will impact the sector to a much greater degree than, for instance, a delay in January. Publicans are busy rehiring staff and ordering stock so this new uncertainty places them in an impossible position.
The Licensed Vintners Association believes that those working in the hospitality sector are not in a welcome position and that operators cant be expected to make decisions about hiring staff, securing supplies and preparing their premises at such short notice.
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During the interview, the Taoiseach was asked about this situation and he said: “we (Government) understand the need for people to have clarity as early as possible” but said that he can’t “speculate right now” about the immediate future of the industry.
“I fully appreciate that it’s been a devastating year for anybody in the hospitality sector, travel sector and in tourism because of the pandemic. But as I said, there’s a process that’s always in place in terms of decision making. I can’t speculate right now in relation to it, other than say it is an area of concern to the CMO and everyone.”
Mr Martin adds: “Anything we open, we want to keep open. We don’t want to be going backwards,”
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