The Government is allowing Ireland’s tourism industry to be “ravaged, devastated and torn apart” on the basis of “speculative projections from NPHET,” according to celebrity chef Paul Treyvaud.
He was speaking as Cabinet discusses a further delay to reopening due to concerns about the Delta variant.
NPHET last night presented the Cabinet sub-committee on COVID-19 with ‘grim’ predictions for what might happen if indoor hospitality reopens as planned.
Under the worst-case scenario, the health officials claimed Ireland could see more than 600,000 cases over the next three months, with over 2,000 deaths.
Even under the most optimistic projection, the group claimed the country would see more than 80,000 cases and more than 150 deaths.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, Kerry restauranteur Paul Treyvaud hit out at the NPHET projections.
“Our Government are going to base their decisions on speculative projections from NPHET that have been wrong I don’t know how many times,” he said.
“In April, we were told that a slow reopening of society would see 3,000 cases by the end of June – it hasn’t happened. Nowhere near happened.”
On March 31st, NPHET warned that cases could increase to 2,000 a day with a “low or medium increase” in social contact.
After restrictions were eased on April 12th, the highest daily rate Ireland experienced was the 615 reported on April 22nd.
— NewstalkFM (@NewstalkFM) June 29, 2021
“All of Hospitality should have opened on June 2nd,” said Mr Treyvaud. “Hotels have opened and I am delighted they are seeing a very, very busy season with indoor dining - there hasn’t been a single spike. Not a single surge.
“This Delta variant that we are all apparently to be scared stiff of now has not stopped the UK from keeping indoor dining open. They are going to have 60,000 fans [at the semi-finals of Euro 2020].
“They are saying now that they are going to do a full-on reopening from July 19th, no matter what.
“Our entire tourism industry has been ravished [sic], devastated, torn apart and, like I said back in April, going on the Government’s projections and the decision making they are going to do, we will see our tourism sector literally flee the country and go up North.”
He said the Government was following NPHET’s predictions while “totally disregarding what we can see happening right in front of us.”
“There are 200,000 people in hospitality alone - let alone music and entertainment, let alone the aviation sector - being absolutely destroyed in front of their very eyes and they are completely ignoring it,” he said. “They don’t care.
“I am one of the lucky ones. Treyvaud’s Restaurant in Killarney is here almost 20 years. We will get through this ourselves but I am inundated with people telling me that they are contemplating suicide, that they have lost their businesses, that they are about to lose their businesses – that the mental health, stress and pressure they are going through is absolutely unbearable at this stage and we are completely being ignored.”
He said permitting indoor dining in hotels but not restaurants is like telling people from Today FM they can go to work while Newstalk can’t.
“When you ask why, you are told: ‘Because,'" he said. "'Because we said so.’"
"It is an absolute disgrace.”
"Astounded and angered"
It comes after the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) said it was “astounded and angered” at the expected delay.
It also warned that the plan to restrict indoor dining to vaccinated people is “flawed, unworkable, discriminatory and currently illegal.”
“Restaurant, Pub and Café Owners will now be placed in the unenviable, complex and difficult position of allowing vaccinated customers enter indoors and restricting non-vaccinated customers to outdoor dining,” said RAI CEO Adrian Cummins.
“Such a practice of refusing access to goods and services is currently illegal under equality acts.
“The hospitality sector contains a diverse range of workers by age with front of house, mostly the unvaccinated age groups, who will now be asked to refuse access to their peers.
“This makes no sense and will restrict indoor dining to those in the 40 – 60 age groups who are fully vaccinated whilst the hotel across the street has families and guests dining indoor since 2nd June.”
The group called on the Government to “reopen Indoor Hospitality with immediate effect in line with our colleagues in Northern Ireland and across Europe.”
It warned that, if it doesn’t, the “summer will be lost for thousands of businesses across the state.”
According to European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) figures, Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands all have similar vaccination rates to Ireland.
Indoor dining is open in every one of those countries – although Austria, Denmark and Germany require proof of negative testing or vaccination.
In the UK, where the Delta variant now accounts for over 90% of cases, indoor dining has been open since late May.