All options are on the table when it comes to plans to reopen indoor hospitality, according to the chief executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI).
Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Adrian Cummins said his association had a “full and frank” conversation with the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and Minister for Health on Wednesday during a two-hour meeting.
A working group will commence work on Monday to “scope out” how a “corona pass” would or could work, while awaiting data from the UK on the Delta variant that could indicate it would be possible for the sector to reopen in a few weeks, he said.
“We are working to have a solution in place so we can get our businesses back open. We have a blank sheet of paper, we are open to all options on the table,” Mr Cummins said.
Options such as antigen and PCR testing needed to be discussed in detail to find a viable solution, he added.
Mr Cummins pointed out that Wednesday’s meeting was the first in 15 months directly between the industry and the Government. It should have happened sooner, he said.
The key issue was the legality of the “corona pass”, what information would people have to present to a person checking at the door to a premises, who would police the system, how would rogue operators be regulated and would the gardaí have powers to enter premises.
The whole country, including the Government, wanted to get back to normality where everyone could go out and enjoy themselves, added Mr Cummins.
Key dates could not be dismissed or the trust factor would break down, he warned.
It comes after Taoiseach Micheál Martin was told last night by a party member that Fianna Fáil was now “toxic” and “irrelevant” to young people, who were “up in arms” amid the potential return of indoor dining for vaccinated people only.
Amid continuing pressure, a Government delegation led by Mr Martin has told representatives of the hospitality industry that a mid-July reopening of indoor hospitality might still be possible if new data from the UK indicated lower hospitalisation and death rates from the Delta variant.
A Co Kerry restaurateur has meanwhile revealed how he received 500 cancelled bookings for throughout the summer – in a single day – after the Government delayed the reopening of indoor dining.