Health minister Stephen Donnelly is under fire from publicans and his own backbenchers over the introduction of “crazy” new rules requiring restaurants and pubs serving food to record all food orders and keep the information for 28 days.
Furious lobby groups and TDs compared the new rules to communist state monitoring in East Germany and George Orwell’s dystopian novel.
Fáilte Ireland, which communicated the new rules with proprietors yesterday morning, has sought to distance itself from the backlash saying it was Mr Donnelly who signed the statutory instrument.
“Our guidelines reflect the Government measures when they're announced and that's what happened here,” a spokeswoman told the.
Fianna Fáil backbenchers reacted angrily to the new measures, with one TD, Marc MacSharry, describing the moves as “Stasi-esque”.
In a text to Taoiseach Micheál Martin and other senior ministers, Mr MacSharry said: “I appeal for immediate intervention to alter the 'Stasi' guidelines issued to restauranteurs and gastro publicans. This is a step away too far and I appeal to all of you to urgently reverse this authoritarian and unnecessary nonsense.
“Today's guidelines as published are ridiculous. I just text collectively in hope and desperation that collectively you will urgently address the police state restrictions announced today.”
CEO of the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) Adrian Cummins condemned the way the latest guidelines were communicated to those in the industry.
"The biggest issue is the way that things are being done," he said. "The lack of consultation. The sly announcements."
Chief executive of the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI), Padraig Cribben, said the rules are "bureaucracy gone mad".
A spokesperson for the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) described the latest development as “ridiculous”.
“How is it going to help protect public health, knowing what topping was on a customer’s pizza or what way their potatoes were cooked?"
Speaking in Dublin, the Taoiseach said that he and the Government want to get pubs open again and a new plan to allow the country to live with Covid-19 will be published on Monday, September 14.
He said the Government has acted on public health advice and that has served the country well.
Arts and culture minister Catherine Martin and Mr Donnelly will meet with the country’s main sporting bodies — the GAA, the FAI, and IRFU — and Acting Chief Medical Officer Ronan Glynn today to see if spectator restrictions can be lifted on matches.
Ms Martin is keen to see restrictions on numbers lifted for events, but in way that is safe and in line with health guidelines.
Her department and officials will listen to concerns and suggestions from the sports bodies. The meeting will also allow health officials to later consider how current restrictions could be addressed, a source said. It is understood that entrances and exits at event venues will be discussed, as will the number of people permitted to attend.
Meanwhile, the Government wants to relax the two-week quarantine for those coming from some foreign countries as part of its new Covid plan.
A medium-term Covid plan will be published on September 14.
Transport minister Eamon Ryan told the Dáil that the plan will allow people to return to some sort of normality in the coming months.
It is expected that an easing of the rules around international travel — specifically the requirement to restrict movement for 14 days — will be contained in this plan, with Mr Ryan stating that it would contain "a planned approach allowing for connectivity".
"I asked them to look, as we have said we would, at international experience, such as where other countries require testing arrangements for air travel that may reduce the risk of increased air travel and that may allow us, in certain instances, to waive the requirement for a 14-day restriction on movement when someone comes here," he said.
It is understood Mr Ryan is keen to broaden the number of countries on the green list, and ease quarantining.