A Cork publican has said that the yo-yo effect of pubs and restaurants is “no good for our business”.
Restaurants and pubs that serve food re-opened this month and it had been expected that they would remain open into January.
However, following advice from Nphet, the Taoiseach confirmed that restaurants and gastropubs are to close before New Year's Eve.
Paul Montgomery, who owns Clancy’s in Cork City, said it was “no surprise” that the Chief Medical Officer doesn’t want the hospitality sector open.
Mr Montgomery said he respects everything Dr Tony Holohan is saying but “the numbers aren’t surprising”.
He said that the number of people very sick in hospital with Covid is low.
“So my hope was that despite numbers going back up, a lot of it is younger people and people coming into the country travelling, that there’s less people sick and that they wouldn’t [have] another shutdown”.
He said the reality of it “is that the numbers were always going to go when travel was increasing.”
Dr Holohan said this morning that no one sector was being “picked on”.
The more interactions in social settings where alcohol was consumed do lead to people being less cautious about adhering to advice and keeping distances, he said.
Data had shown that social contacts had significantly increased in recent days, he said, and there was a need to reduce opportunities for social contact, in particular indoors.
Mr Montgomery said the issue of travel should have been dealt with earlier, citing other island countries like New Zealand where people had to quarantine before entering the country.
When asked if that sort of measure should be tried here, he said that the “political will isn’t there” with Northern Ireland and the UK “because of all the hassles that’s there with Brexit”.
Northern Ireland is set to enter a new six-week lockdown from Decembers 26.
Stormont Executive ministers agreed to close non-essential retail and contact services, as well as restricting the hospitality sector to takeaway only.
Mr Montgomery said that one of the positives is that they’ve “had two good weeks” since the pubs reopened.
“We were able to mobilise and staff wanted to come back to work. It proves that most people enjoy working”.
However, he stated that it was getting harder and harder to remobilise.
“The yo-yo effect is just no good for our business.”
He said the “optics of New Year’s Eve” is "bothering" the country.
“The political side of it is that the optics of people celebrating and maybe the North are closed down and other parts of Europe.
“I think there’s a bit of a knee jerk reaction here as well because a lot of Europe’s numbers are so bad and because they’ve been shutting down one by one that the reaction is that ‘we should shut down Ireland as well’.”
Meanwhile, infectious diseases expert, Professor Paddy Mallon, has said that the sooner there is clarity about future restrictions the better for society and the hospitality sector.
While he understood the frustrations of the hospitality sector, the overall purpose of the message from the Chief Medical Officer and Nphet was to give the sector “early warnings of what's coming down the track” he said.
Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show, Prof Mallon said that everyone in the country, at all costs, wanted to avoid the need for to go back into Level 5 restrictions “because it affects everybody.”
Early identifiers of the sort of activities that were causing the rise in numbers had indicated that it was workplace parties and funerals that were part of the problem, he added.
“There was a specific reference to workplace parties - which don't make sense and there was also a specific reference to funerals - they are early warnings that we as a public really need to take on board and if we continue with those sorts of activities - it's that lack of personal responsibility from people undertaking those activities. It's going to have an effect on everybody.”
When asked about the situation in parts of Donegal where the Covid rates were nine times the national level, Prof Mallon said the figures were a reflection of the fact that Covid did not respect borders.
“When we look at the scenario that's happening in Northern Ireland - it paints a pretty bleak picture. I think what we're seeing around a lot of the border counties - we've seen it the whole way along, what happens in Northern Ireland, tends to spill over into those border counties.