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Restaurateur criticises 'farcical' letter proving vaccine status for indoor dining

A Michelin Star chef predicts that a system whereby people must show a letter to prove they are f...
Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

10.34 6 Jul 2021


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Restaurateur criticises 'farcical' letter proving vaccine status for indoor dining


Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

10.34 6 Jul 2021


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A Michelin Star chef predicts that a system whereby people must show a letter to prove they are fully vaccinated before they can enjoy indoor dining will be "an absolute farce".

JP McMahon, a Galway chef and restaurateur, welcomes any plans to allow his business to reopen, but said he can't envisage how such a scheme could be policed.

Representatives from the hospitality sector held talks with Government officials yesterday in a bid to come up with a number of measures to safely return indoor dining and drinking.

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They were optimistic following the meeting that indoor hospitality can return with some restrictions from July 19th.

One of the proposals would see those who have been vaccinated given a letter which would be used to get access to indoor dining.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast, Mr McMahon questioned why, in 21st century Ireland, an electronic pass could not be developed for use on people's phones, rather than a paper document.

"In principle, I have no problem with it because I want to open and we've been closed for 18 months but I can't see how it will be self-policed," he said.

"At the moment we have a division in hospitality between hotels and restaurants with hotels serving residents but that's not even being policed.

"It's mildly farcical that it's a letter and that in this era we couldn't get something on our phones."

Restaurateur criticises 'farcical' letter proving vaccine status for indoor dining

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He questioned whether the Gardaí are going to come into a pub or restaurant and ask every patron for their letter.

"Does this mean there will also be no more social distancing in restaurants because all our tables are a metre apart?" he said.

"There are so many other questions but I think ultimately it's going to attract a lot of negativity which is not something our industry news at the moment and I think there needs to be a better solution to it.

"I also think, with the NPHET advice, the Government say they have to follow it, they could follow 75% of it and work through it but I think the Government are not interested in dialogue at the moment, unfortunately."

Mr McMahon added that he has no problem not permitting a customer entry if they do not have their letter on hand.

"Personally, I would say I'm really sorry but you can't come in, but there are restaurants all over the country at the moment serving indoors, particularly in rural areas where there is no policing of this

"It's going to be an absolute farce, I think."

Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath speaking to media before entering Dublin Castle for a Cabinet meeting. Minister for Public Expenditure Michael McGrath speaking to media before entering Dublin Castle for a Cabinet meeting. Picture by: Sasko Lazarov / RollingMews.ie

Meanwhile, the Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath said today that the reopening of indoor dining on July 19th has yet to be agreed upon.

However, he is confident indoor dining can return soon if people are willing to try new things.

Speaking on his way into Cabinet this morning, Minister McGrath said he believes it could be back soon.

"We're making real progress, we do want to see the resumption of indoor dining and indoor activities as quickly as possible," he said.

"I think with goodwill on all sides and a willingness to try and do new things, we think we can get there quite quickly."

Main image: A split-screen image of Michelin Star Chef JP McMahon and his Aniar Restaurant.

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