The Chief Executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland has said that he has called for an urgent meeting with the Government to discuss speculation around a pause on reopening of indoor hospitality.
Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Adrian Cummins said the Association “needs to know very clearly what percentage of the population needs to be fully vaccinated before hospitality can reopen fully”.
Under the Government’s easing of restrictions, indoor services are due to resume in bars and restaurants from 5 July.
Mr Cummins said “we need to know by the latest next Monday morning” as it is causing “unnecessary concern at a critical time” for the industry.
He said this could be a lost summer for the industry and plans to reopen seem to be “moving away into the horizon”.
Speaking on the same programme, the chairman of the Cork branch of the Vintners Federation of Ireland Michael O’Donovan said the potential delay to reopening of indoor dining would be “really disappointing” and have financial implications for publicans.
Mr O’Donovan, who is the owner of the Castle Inn in Cork, said that he has stock ordered and staff engaged to prepare for a July 5 reopening.
He called on the Government “to tell us if there is a delay as we can pause things” as having to pay for stock brings a burden on finances and credit flows.
Mr Donovan said that speculation was “unhelpful” and is difficult to square when you see pubs operating indoors in Northern Ireland while continuing to observe Covid-19 regulations.
He said a delay to reopening would be a “hammer blow for publicans in tourist areas”.
Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys said that the Government will not make a decision on reopening until next week when NPHET has time to assess the most up to date data on Covid-19 infections.
Also speaking to Morning Ireland, Ms Humphreys that she understands how difficult the speculation on the issue is for publicans and restaurateurs.
She said the Government needs to see the data and “make a decision next week but want to be sure when open up they can stay open”.
Ms Humphreys said that the Government is looking at ways to speed up the vaccination programme as this will give people protection and put them in a “much, much better position”.
She said that she will bring legislation before the Oireachtas next week that provides clarity on the consumption of alcohol in designated areas outside licensed premises.
Ms Humphreys added that the Government is “determined to support pubs and restaurants as they reopen” and primary legislation is being prepared by her department.
Also part of the Government’s reopening strategy for 5 July, there will be an increase in the number of guests at wedding receptions to 50. First communions, confirmations and baptisms can also take place.
Organised indoor events are set to resume, with a maximum of 50 people in most venues, but up to 100 people are allowed where social distancing of two metres can be implemented.
Children’s play centres, bowling alleys, snooker halls, amusement arcades and indoor water parks are also set to reopen from that date.