The Rural Independents have accused the government of a “chaotic u-turn” on opening the country, and say that there has been a failure” to consult, engage, or listen to the hospitality sector which employs 260,000 people and contributes over €6 billion to the Irish economy.”
Speaking from his Tipperary constituency, Mattie McGrath TD, the Leader of the Rural Independent Group said: “Originally, the 22 October plan was to end the use of Covid certificates for dining and drinking indoors; to reopen nightclubs and to allow outdoor events without restriction. Consequently, the industry planned and invested based on this date.”
“Now, today’s announcement by the government changes all that. It is a U-turn on the original plan, saturated in anomalies and contradictions. Nightclubs for instance, can return to full capacity, while pubs and restaurants must meet more stringent restrictions – which includes table only service – potentially, up to at least February 2022.”
He said the government needed to “get out of the way and allow people return to a normal life”.
For example, my colleagues and I have been calling for rapid Antigen testing for over a year now. Having such a testing system would allow for normalcy to return much sooner, as the testing could play a vital role for people to test themselves and take themselves out of circulation, when needed.”
“The continuance of only allowing fully vaccinated patrons into hospitality venues is highly discriminatory, unethical and not grounded in science. It is also highly troublesome and unworkable from a practical standpoint; for several reasons, including the expectation that publicans and their staff must police such a prejudicial policy.”
“Pubs and restaurants have been allowed to open since May in the North; yet, this government continues to penalise our sector, which has already been hit by the most stringent government-imposed restrictions in any western country.”