Hospitality sector to push for lifting of 11.30pm curfew and phasing out of Covid certs

Hospitality sector to push for lifting of 11.30pm curfew and phasing out of Covid certs

Currently, all customers are required to leave bars and restaurants by 11.30pm, but some business owners say this is creating problems with large groups of people congregating outside, and leading to difficulties in people securing transport home. File photo: Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie

The hospitality industry is to push for an end to the 11.30pm curfew at a meeting with government officials tomorrow.

It is part of an overall effort by representatives from the sector to secure an overall easing of restrictions.

The Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) will press for further relaxation of restrictions in order to allow the industry to reopen more widely, according to CEO Adrian Cummins.

"Our main request will be the lifting of the curfew. The promise was of looking at it from September onwards, so now we're giving them lots of advance notice. We don't want another 11th hour decision," he said.

"We will start the conversation with officials and we will be requesting a road map to the standing down of restrictions in a managed way. 

We're now around 71% of adults fully vaccinated. If 85% is where they want to get to, what happens then? Will we start to get back to normal? Or is this going to be it forever?

Currently, all customers are required to leave bars and restaurants by 11.30pm. However, business owners say this is creating problems with large groups of people congregating outside, and leading to difficulties in people securing transport home.

"With the 11.30pm close, everyone is piling out on the street at one time, which creates issues then with public transport, taxis, buses, and people congregating together, it gets messy," he said.

"We believe by going back to normal trading to half 12, the extra hour will allow for a dilution of people getting home. Having everyone straight out, off the premises at half 11 is creating unnecessary trouble.

"The second issue is the vaccine certificate. We were told this would be a temporary measure, with a sunshine clause in October. Could this be brought forward?

"The vaccine roll-out is going so well we will be asking what is the percentage of vaccinations we need to get to in order to see the certs phased out."

Mr Cummins says that the current legislation for indoor dining has been "very difficult" for businesses.

He said they are also set to request PCR and antigen testing to be used in order for unvaccinated people to dine indoors. Previously, government figures have been reluctant to support this as an option, though in recent weeks, that opposition has waned. 

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar last week said it is unlikely to be introduced until after the peak of the Delta wave, though.

The meeting with government officials, the RAI, representatives from the LVA, VFI and Hotels Federation Ireland will take place via video conference at 4pm on Wednesday. However, it is not expected that any further decisions will be made regarding the restrictions.

The Cabinet committee on Covid-19 is due to meet on Friday for the first of its scheduled meetings for August to decide on whether it is advisable to roll back further restrictions.

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