The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) emphatically rejects NPHET advice to Government that only the fully vaccinated should be admitted to indoor hospitality venues. The VFI says the plan is unworkable and that it will only increase pressure on publicans and their staff.
Padraig Cribben, VFI Chief Executive, says: “The idea that only allowing the fully vaccinated into hospitality venues is highly problematic and probably unworkable for a number of reasons, not least how do publicans and their staff police such a policy? Government has consistently stated it would not introduce this type of measure so for it now to change course has left the pub trade reeling.
“There is confusion and overwhelming anger among our members as to how pubs in the North can open safely for indoor trading since 24th May while the UK Government is removing all restrictions in the next three weeks stating that ‘we must learn to live with Covid’. Why are we taking such a markedly different, more conservative, approach?
“Even some high profile medical experts are questioning this approach, such as David Nabarro of the World Health Organisation who says if you use vaccine status as a requirement for entry, you’re also blocking out an awful lot of people from having any chance of participating.
“Figures from the UK reveal that while case numbers are rising across Britain on a pro rata basis there are fewer hospital admissions, which is their green light for removing all restrictions. There is nothing to suggest we will have a different experience so to increase restrictions here as the rest of Europe opens up is simply perverse.
“The summer season is here and with no date for reopening indoors our members will be wondering how long it will take to implement a vaccine admission protocol. There will be huge concern this will become a talking shop with ongoing delays. Is that the actual desired outcome of Government and NPHET?
“The way Government has dealt with pubs over the past 15 months is shocking. So many reopening dates postponed or delayed and now this unworkable plan that will create a two-tier society that can only lead to animosity towards publicans and their staff, who are effectively being asked to become agents of the state.
“As ever, we stand ready to engage with Government to find workable solutions to get hospitality open as soon as possible,” concludes Mr Cribben.