'Summer will be lost' if indoor dining is delayed by two weeks - RAI's Adrian Cummins


Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

08.58 28 Jun 2021


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Restaurateurs say the "summer will be lost" if the return of indoor dining is delayed until later in July.

NPHET meets today to consider its advice to the Government about the easing of restrictions on July 5th.

The meeting has been moved forward, amid growing speculation that the return of indoor dining could be pushed back two weeks due to concerns over the Delta variant of COVID-19.

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The Taoiseach has pledged a final decision will be made in the coming days, with a Cabinet meeting now set to take place earlier in the week than previously planned.

A number of prominent health experts and scientists have said there's a strong case for delaying the reopening so more people will be fully vaccinated.

In contrast, infectious diseases expert Professor Paddy Mallon has argued that a few weeks delay won't make a substantial difference to the spread of the Delta variant.

Adrian Cummins of the Restaurants Association of Ireland told Newstalk Breakfast it seems "50-50" about whether the reopening will go ahead next week.

He said: "Considering the North of Ireland is open fully… we’re an outlier.

"Now is the time to open, in our view, because the summer will be lost if we wait another two or three weeks."

Mr Cummins argued that Ireland's in a "different position" now than in previous reopenings, due to the vaccination programme.

However, he said the reopening of restaurants seems like a "moveable feast".

He argued: "Hotels have been open since June 2nd with no outbreak of Delta variant. We’re very clear on this: we need to open, and we want to open on July 5th.

“Even if there is a delay, we’ll need to look for extra business supports. That must come, in the form of increased payments to our businesses."

He said businesses are at the "end of their tether", with bills to pay and staff to organise.

'We are an outlier'

Also speaking on Breakfast, Agriculture Minister Charlie McConalogue said the Government has always been clear they’d have to take into account public health advice as reopening plans moved forward.

The Donegal TD said that while it's not clear yet what decision will be made, he doesn't agree the summer will be lost for the hospitality sector if the reopening is delayed.

'Summer will be lost' if indoor dining is delayed by two weeks - RAI's Adrian Cummins

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He said key meetings of NPHET and the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) have been moved forward to today at the Taoiseach's request.

He explained:  “We do understand the importance for all in the hospitality sector of clarity around the plans for July 5th.

“I think we’d all love to see it reopen on July 5th. Certainly, for counties dependent on tourism like Donegal, that’d be really important - the summer season is really crucial.

“What’s really important as well - and this has been the hallmark of the reopening - is there’s no backsliding: that we do something, and that’s the final time we do it."

The minister acknowledged Ireland is an outlier in Europe when it comes to indoor dining, but said that allows officials here to look at what's been happening in other countries before making decisions.

He added that the vaccine programme is making progress all the time - and Ireland's in a stronger position "every week that goes by".

Main image: Adrian Cummins (left, photo via Sam Boal / RollingNews.ie) / Table in a restaurant (right, photo via Sebastian Gollnow/DPA/PA Images)

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