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Dublin restaurant group threatens legal action against State over Covid-19 restrictions

One of Dublin’s biggest restaurant groups has threatened legal action against the State if it extends Covid-19 restrictions on restaurants and bars in the city beyond October 10th.

The Dublin based Press Up group has written to government ministers claiming that there is “no empirical, objective and verifiable evidence” to justify the shut-down of their businesses.

In a letter written to the Ministers for Health, Finance and Justice, as well as the Attorney General and Chief State Solicitor’s Office, the hospitality business has given the State until next Tuesday to announce if it will extend its restrictions on the capital.

If the State chooses to maintain the current arrangements, lawyers for Press Up will make a legal claim that the restrictions are unconstitutional.

Solicitors for the group say they would “be left with no alternative; but to issue proceedings in respect of the laws bearing on operation of their premises as a last resort”.

The group, which employs almost 2,000 people across 27 restaurants, 12 bars, five hotels and two cinemas also alleged that the Minister for Health has “unlawfully delegated or otherwise abdicated responsibility to third parties in particular members of the National Public Health Emergency Team”.

Solicitors for the group say they have not had any cases detected on their premises, and that “alternative safeguards” should have been proposed by the government that would allow them to continue trading.

Dublin was moved to Level 3 restrictions last month, closing cinemas, forcing diners outside and restricting the hours of drink-only pubs, as well as confining hotels to hosting residents only.

Solicitors for the group said there had not been sufficient debate about the restrictions by members of the Oireachtas.

“The laws bypassed the Oireachtas and have not been subject to any reasoned debate or scrutiny by the elected members of the Oireachtas. The absence of real debate on the content of what on any view are radical laws is a point of particular concern,” the solicitors said.

The group said that the laws threatened not only their business, but also the financial security of their suppliers, landlords, employees and lenders.

“The laws passed by Mr Donnelly are not coupled with any provision to compensate our clients for having to deny access to their premises to the public,” they claim.

“That is a fundamental property right of our clients connected to the operation of bars and restaurants. The new laws, were they to be extended for a prolonged period, could ultimately threaten the financial viability of our clients and their respective businesses.”

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