A Fianna Fáil TD has said it is time for aspects of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) to be decommissioned.
Dublin north-west deputy Paul McAuliffe, who is also spokesperson for local government, says the micro-managing elements of the group are not needed as the vaccine rollout continues.
Honestly as we approach June and July and large numbers of people are due to be offered a first dose...Isn't it time we considered decommissioning NPHET. https://t.co/v2FIRBYrIE
— Paul McAuliffe TD (@PaulMcauliffe) May 26, 2021
He told The Hard Shoulder he does not want to see them stood down, but they should lose some of their powers.
"Not disband them, but decommission some of the tools that we've been using over the last 12 to 14 months.
"I have been very COVID cautious from the beginning and I've supported the sort of middle road that we have followed.
"Sometimes that means you get criticism from both sides - the COVID zero zealots, but equally those people who wanted to put the economy first."
He said new guidelines for the restaurant and bar sector do not take any so-called 'vaccine bonus' into account.
"My disappointment with these guidelines that have been issued today is that I don't believe that they reflect the vaccine bonus, or the vaccine dividend, that most of us expected when we got to large numbers of the population being vaccinated.
"If I tried to explain them to you, you would need a PhD before you would go and plan a lunch.
"And if you've got small kids, it gets even more complicated.
"Incredibly complex when you have essentially different rules for different tables, at different distances with different types of people at each table".
'We risk losing the room'
He said they are at-risk of micro-managing the actions of those who are already vaccinated.
"As I say I have been COVID cautious all the way through, I was a big supporter of mandatory hotel quarantine.
"And I really feel that we risk losing the room here, if we try and micro-manage the interactions which people - who are largely vaccinated - have this summer.
"What we want is to contrate on the important messages that we need to continue to reiterate."
Referring to the guidelines, he said: "There's a lot of good things in here: the idea of not serving at bars, not allowing dancing - I can understand those.
"But the idea of not allowing music? The idea of having different time limits for tables of different distances?
"I just don't see how it's practical for a business owner, or for families planning outings, to be able to follow all of those.
"And we know what will happen: they won't follow them, they'll be largely ignored - and I don't want to see that.
"I want to see the role of NPHET - and NPHET have a really important role - I want to see that maintained, but to do that we need to decommission some of the tools we've used during this pandemic".
He said this could be around broader guidelines and issues such as international variants and localised increases of COVID-19 cases.
"They're the kind of areas we need to concentrate on.
"And my fear is that by essentially ensuring that restaurant owners have to walk around with both a ruler a stopwatch, that we're actually missing the really important issue here".