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NPHET had 'an agenda' against hospitality since the start of the pandemic - RAI

The hospitality industry has been "unfairly targeted by NPHET" since the outset of the coronaviru...
Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

09.06 20 Dec 2020


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NPHET had 'an agenda' against...

NPHET had 'an agenda' against hospitality since the start of the pandemic - RAI

Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

09.06 20 Dec 2020


Share this article


The hospitality industry has been "unfairly targeted by NPHET" since the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, the Restaurants Association of Ireland has said.

The CEO of the representative body for restaurants, cafés and gastropubs said the public health team "have had an agenda against hospitality from the very beginning".

The Cabinet is scheduled to meet on Tuesday to consider recommendations from NPHET that restaurants and gastropubs should be shut before New Year's Eve.

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The Government is expected to choose December 30th as the closure date.

The RAI yesterday called for "an urgent meeting" with the Government over the proposals which will see thousands of workers laid off again before New Year's.

Speaking today, its CEO Adrian Cummins told Newstalk Breakfast with Susan Keogh that the sector is being treated as a scapegoat over the rising COVID-19 figures.

He said: "The news is a huge blow to our industry, to the morale of our staff, to the 150,000 workers across the country that are waking up to that news that they are being effectively been scapegoated.

"We feel we are being unfairly targeted and treated by NPHET, they have had an agenda against hospitality from the very beginning.

"We've done everything we've been asked to do, we've developed Government guidelines for safety for our guests, they are now in question, why did we develop them in the first place?

"Our industry, and the facts are there, there have been no COVID outbreaks in restaurants or pubs that serve food in the last 14 days."

'Shebeens'

It comes as raids in four counties on Friday night uncovered pubs trading in secret and an illegal drinking den.

Inspections in Limerick, Cork, Carlow and Meath this weekend uncovered a number of businesses breaking the rules, including so-called "wet pubs" open for "clandestine business".

Gardaí also found pubs offering "substantial meals" not bothering with social distancing or food.

In Navan, a suspected shebeen was raided where a crowd of 30 people were found drinking inside.

Files are being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions in several cases.

Gardaí are warning pub owners they could face criminal sanctions and is reminding people they too have a "social and personal responsibility".

NPHET had 'an agenda' against hospitality since the start of the pandemic - RAI

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Mr Cummins said Gardaí "have the powers now to deal with those incidences, they can close down a licences premises with immediate effect if they so wish".

He said the Association advised Fáilte Ireland and the Department of Tourism that they wanted extra inspections from Gardaí so a zero-tolerance approach to the regulations could be guaranteed across the industry.

He added: "Any business not doing that are putting the entire industry at risk and those businesses should be dealt with accordingly through the law and the Gardaí have the power to do so.

"With regard to the issue around shebeens, they are unlicensed premises and that just shows when you move the public into an unlicensed setting, like a household, like a shebeen, you have a higher of risk of transmission within those settings.

The Restaurants Association has argued to the Government "all along" that the hospitality sector "is regulated, controlled, safe".

Mr Cummins stated: "We have asked the Government to keep our industry open for indoor dining.

"Because if we are closed, and it looks like we will be closed from midnight on the 30th, well then obviously you're going to have massive amounts of house parties on New Year's Eve, unregulated."

Speaking on the same programme, Sean O’Driscoll the CEO of the iNua Collection, which operates nine hotels around Ireland, said it was "a very upsetting time" for people in the hospitality industry.

He said: "I think when we talk about sacrifices during COVID, you have to remember that most employees in the hospitality sector have spent six or seven months of 2020 unemployed.

"The financial strain on their families, the mental stress, has been immense, and the Government announcing they may be 'minded' to close hospitality but then not exactly clarifying what's happening over Christmas is really soul-destroying for those employees who endured so much during the year."

Main image: A man sitting among empty seats outside the Metro Cafe in Dublin City Centre in March. Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews

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Christmas Restrictions Covid-19 Hospitality Industry NPHET Pubs Restaurants Restaurants Association Of Ireland

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