Jack Quann
Jack Quann

22.11 29 Jun 2021


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The Government's proposal to only re-open indoor hospitality to vaccinated people is down to it being unable to make tough decisions.

That is according to Liam Herrick, executive director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL).

He was speaking after Taoiseach Micheál Martin confirmed the return of indoor activities is being delayed by at least two weeks.

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Indoor dining is expected to open to fully vaccinated people or those who have recovered from COVID sometime after July 19th, with a system for managing it being worked out over the coming weeks.

But Mr Herrick told The Hard Shoulder this approach is "is not about public health - this is about the Government being unable to make tough decisions about opening one sector of the economy.

"And in the absence of being able to make proper decisions in this way, they are complicating this now with a false promise - I think - from this new technology approach, which they haven't even started developing".

On the plan itself, he says nothing about it seems to be ready.

"There's an argument to be had about the merits, about the questions of discrimination, the questions of employee rights, the questions of data protection and privacy.

"But before we kind of compare and contrast different countries, we've got to think about how this decision appears to have been made here.

"The Government confirmed at lunchtime today that it had never considered in any meaningful way having a digital certificate system in Ireland.

"It's done no preparation for it, no analysis whatsoever.

"NPHET for the first time last night recommended this - it's not apparent that NPHET has expertise in any of those areas, or has conducted any kind of analysis itself of employment law, privacy, equality or whatever else".

Health data 'recently breached'

And he adds there is one important distinction between Ireland and other countries using similar COVID certs.

"We don't have a national health database with a single identifier for people, which stores people's data.

"And that health data that we do have we know has been compromised and breached recently - so we're not starting from the same spot"

"I think it's unworkable in an Irish context, I think it's going to be very, very difficult.

"And I think that's why you've seen such concern from the Restaurants Association and the Vintners Federation today.

"One of the most obvious questions is what are we saying about staff?

"This isn't a question of people that are reluctant to take a vaccine or have any choice in the matter.

"People under 40 in Ireland are only now starting to be offered the vaccine, and they won't be vaccinated for some months to come.

"And the majority of people working in the hospitality sector are of that age bracket.

"So we have a situation now, and NPHET is apparently telling us, and the Government is endorsing this view: that if you're a young person it's safe for you to work in a bar or restaurant.

"It's not safe for you to be a customer in that bar or restaurant, unless you book a room in a hotel.

"That is absurd, it is discriminatory against one section of the population - and it's going to produce all sorts of legal and practical problems for employers I think as well as for the State".

Indoor hospitality for the vaccinated 'down to Government unable to make tough decisions' - Herrick

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

    

Main image: Members of the public enjoying an indoor lunch in Dublin city this December 2020 file photo. Picture by: Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie

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COVID Certs Hospitality ICCL Indoor Hospitality Liam Herrick The Hard Shoulder Vaccinated

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