The Rural Independents have accused the government of a “chaotic u-turn” on opening the country, and say that there has been a failure” to consult, engage, or listen to the hospitality sector which employs 260,000 people and contributes over €6 billion to the Irish economy.”
Speaking from his Tipperary constituency, Mattie McGrath TD, the Leader of the Rural Independent Group said: “Originally, the 22 October plan was to end the use of Covid certificates for dining and drinking indoors; to reopen nightclubs and to allow outdoor events without restriction. Consequently, the industry planned and invested based on this date.”
“Now, today’s announcement by the government changes all that. It is a U-turn on the original plan, saturated in anomalies and contradictions. Nightclubs for instance, can return to full capacity, while pubs and restaurants must meet more stringent restrictions – which includes table only service – potentially, up to at least February 2022.”
He said the government needed to “get out of the way and allow people return to a normal life”.
For example, my colleagues and I have been calling for rapid Antigen testing for over a year now. Having such a testing system would allow for normalcy to return much sooner, as the testing could play a vital role for people to test themselves and take themselves out of circulation, when needed.”
“The continuance of only allowing fully vaccinated patrons into hospitality venues is highly discriminatory, unethical and not grounded in science. It is also highly troublesome and unworkable from a practical standpoint; for several reasons, including the expectation that publicans and their staff must police such a prejudicial policy.”
“Pubs and restaurants have been allowed to open since May in the North; yet, this government continues to penalise our sector, which has already been hit by the most stringent government-imposed restrictions in any western country.”
“This ongoing approach of making it up as you go along or wait and see, rather than executing a plan that can sustain the hospitality sector is another shambolic creation of this government.”
“The country needed clarity on a path forward. Instead, we got more confusion today as questions remain and answers were in short supply.”
“The government’s dire treatment of the Irish hospitality sector, which employs around 260,000 and is worth over €6 billion to the Irish economy, is unforgivable,” Deputy McGrath said.
“How can this government permit certain activities while preventing others within the very same sector. A return to dancing is welcome, but there is no logic in permitting that activity while ruling out the use of the bar counter?”
“It now appears that the government, for whatever reason, wishes to impose stringent restrictions on pubs and restaurants well into 2022.”
“Extending these restrictions will have very serious financial and economic consequences for already hard-hit workers and business owners in the sector. In overall terms this decision shows a deep lack of any consideration for this sector from the government.”
“Alarmingly, revenue have confirmed that 350 pubs here were forced to close last year. Clearly, government restrictions, which have been the longest and toughest anywhere, played a key role in this,” concluded Deputy Mc Grath.