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24/07/2021

Dismay in Limerick as Taoiseach confirms delay to re-opening

Dismay in Limerick

An Taoiseach Micheál Martin made his 15th address to the nation this lunchtime

THERE’S dismay in the hospitality industry across Limerick after the date of indoor re-openings of pubs and restaurants was put back amid fears of the new Covid-19 Delta variant.

In an announcement this lunchtime, An Taoiseach Micheál Martin confirmed there will be no indoor re-opening as was originally anticipated next Monday, July 5.

It’s left local publicans and restaurant owners have counting the cost, with local Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) spokesperson Paul Flannery saying: “It’s completely heartbreaking and so disappointing.”

“Where is all the data modelling in terms of keeping indoor hospitality closed? Are they looking at the full picture,” he asked, “We have 40% of the adult population vaccinated now. So why have we not updated this plan? You go into any supermarket any day of the week and you have a couple of hundred people touching multiple products. Zero contact tracing with it. While people in the hospitality sector can control and manage our environments, we can do contact tracing, we have sanitisers on tables.”

Mr Martin said Ireland is “in a race between the variant and vaccine ... and we want to do everything we can to ensure the vaccines win".

Mr Martin said that over the course of the last number of weeks concern has been growing over the prevalence, nature, and risk associated with the Delta variant of Covid-19.

He said it is clearly more transmissible - 55% more than the last variant, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention.

He said that tremendous progress is being made in the vaccine programme and careful, staged reopening of society with people's co-operation is working.

Mr Martin said that the reopening of indoor hospitality will be limited to those fully vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19 infection.

But there is concern locally at this measure, with Adare publican Sean Collins saying: “I cannot imagine a publican asking a question of a customer, especially a regular one, if they have a vaccine certificate”.

While Mr Flannery expressed concern at the extra administration work this will provide publicans with, pointing out the industry is losing staff at a rapid pace due to the current uncertain conditions.

There was better news from Mr Martin in terms of other organised events.

As planned, numbers at these can increase to 200 or 500 for stadiums or venues with a capacity of over 5,000.

Attendance at wedding receptions can go up to 50 guests as an exception.

But indoor activities will not proceed as planned, pending the implementation of a system to verify vaccination or immunity.

Government said it will devise an implementation plan by July 19.

There will be no limit on the number of people who can visit together if they are all fully protected by vaccination or have recovered from Covid-19 infection in the previous nine months.

For more reaction, see our broadsheet print edition, on sale this Wednesday.

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