Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

09.25 13 Dec 2020


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We should not be "talking ourselves" into a further national lockdown in January following the Christmas festivities, the CEO of the Restaurants Association of Ireland has said.

There has been speculation that the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and increased social interaction around Christmas will lead to a spike in cases in the New Year.

It comes as three further deaths and 248 new cases of the virus were confirmed in Ireland yesterday.

The Cabinet is due to meet on Tuesday to discuss recommendations about how the jab should be delivered, stored and administered here.

Adrian Cummins believes that the focus should be on keeping the economy open until a coronavirus vaccine is rolled-out.

He added that the Government should be "ambitious" in making Ireland the first European country to achieve herd immunity through the vaccination.

He told Newstalk Breakfast with Susan Keogh that while a decision on further lockdowns is one for the Government based on public health advice, we're not at that stage yet.

He said: "We're not there yet, the numbers yesterday were in the 200s, they're steady.

"We shouldn't be talking ourselves into another lockdown.

"Our view is that we want to remain open to the finishing line and the finishing line for us is the roll-out of a vaccine."

Mr Cummins said businesses want to make sure the economy is back to opening fully and that the focus should be on developing a vaccination programme "as quickly as possible".

He said: "We're not talking about a lockdown, if it comes to the Government deciding that then we'll deal with it in the future.

"It's very important that the Government is ambitious, let's be the first European country to have 70% herd immunity through the vaccination.

"We're a small country and I believe we can do this and give confidence to the rest of the world that Ireland is back open for business."

January lockdown Level three freedoms to eat, drink, be merry and full of Christmas cheer returns to the streets around the Creative Quarter in Dublin. Photo. Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

'Positive' weekend for restaurants

Restaurants across the country have had a "quite positive" weekend, he added, as there was "pent-up demand" for consumers to get out and enjoy themselves.

Mr Cummins said there was "a substantial amount of people out" and restaurants were full to capacity based on social distancing.

He said that since the Government had issued an advisory around no-shows at restaurants, there has been a big reduction in people booking multiple restaurants and only going to one.

He added: "We saw over this weekend there was a big correction in the market with no-shows in that we didn't see any or very, very little

"The issue around people booking two or three restaurants and only turning up to one has been stamped out now.

"Every customer counts and we need to ensure that these customers actually show up when they have a booking.

Mr Cummins explained that Christmas is very important for businesses in terms of generating income to get them through "the lean times of January".

He sought to reassure people that the hospitality industry is "very safe and highly regulating" in terms of COVID-19 guidelines.

"I want to be very clear that if you go to restaurants you are in a safe environment provided you do everything you're asked to do when you get there.

"We want to protect our staff and our customers so we can keep our doors open into the future."

Main image: Crowds of people fill Grafton Street in Dublin yesterday evening. Photo: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

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