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JP McMahon worried vaccine pass opponents will 'block book' restaurants to disrupt reopening

Restauranteur JP McMahon says he's worried people opposed to vaccine passes will 'block book' res...
Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

18.13 8 Jul 2021


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JP McMahon worried vaccine pas...

JP McMahon worried vaccine pass opponents will 'block book' restaurants to disrupt reopening

Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

18.13 8 Jul 2021


Share this article


Restauranteur JP McMahon says he's worried people opposed to vaccine passes will 'block book' restaurants to disrupt reopening plans.

The Galway-based chef says he himself has received a "whole pile of vitriol" for saying he's willing to reopen using a temporary vaccine pass system.

He was speaking as talks continued today between the Government and the hospitality industry on efforts to allow indoor dining in pubs and restaurants.

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The Vintners' Federation of Ireland says today's talks focused on devising a system that allows only vaccinated people and those recovered from COVID-19 to dine indoors.

Meanwhile, the Licensed Vintners Association says it believes it has no option but to go along with the Government proposals, as many pubs have been closed for almost 16 months.

The Government is expected to consider six reopening options for indoor dining at its cabinet meeting on Tuesday, as work continues to agree on a system ahead of July 19th.

The Taoiseach has confirmed legislation will need to be passed by the Dáil to allow indoor dining to take place for only vaccinated people - although a number of Government TDs have previously said they'd oppose any such legislation.

If agreed, any such system is expected to only be used on a temporary basis until the vast majority of the population is fully vaccinated in August or September.

On The Hard Shoulder, Mr McMahon says he has no problem - in theory - with vaccine passes to facilitate reopening.

He explained: "I’d like to see them being used together with antigen testing, as they have in Denmark.

“I’d still be concerned with the policing of it - is it self-regulatory? I think if we’re going to bring this in, we have to bring it in properly.

“I will feel obliged… to play by the rules. But there are many restaurants and bars who will not - then it kind of makes a farce of the whole thing."

The chef says he'd do "anything just get opened" after nearly a year and a half of closures - including using vaccine passes for four or eight weeks if needed.

However, he noted: "If it can only be vaccinated people indoors, then there should be no need for one-metre social distancing. I’m not too sure if they will do that.”

Despite his eagerness to reopen, he is concerned over the "vitriol or hate" restaurants will face if they have to police the new system.

He said: "I’ve seen it myself on social media… a lot of [people] say they’re going to block book restaurants and try to disrupt their business.

“I received a whole pile of vitriol saying 'I’m never going to come to your restaurant again'… that’s what I’m a little bit afraid of.

“The last thing you want is aggressive people or people who are anti-vaccination, for whatever reason they want to be… [starting to disrupt] business. I’d be very worried about that."

Main image: Table in a restaurant (Picture by: Anthony Behar/SIPA USA/PA Images) and JP McMahon (Picture by: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland)

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