A Galway restaurant is the first business in the State to challenge the Covid-19 cert at court on the grounds of discrimination.
Almost €70,000 has been raised to support Italian restaurant Il Vicolo’s bid to legally challenge the use of the pass proving vaccination or recent recovery from the virus.
A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to support the restaurant on Lower Dominick Street to bring a court action to challenge the ongoing implementation of the EU Digital Covid-19 Certificate on the grounds of discrimination and breach of privacy law.
The cert is used as primary evidence of vaccination or immunity when going into a pub, restaurant, café or food court to access indoor hospitality.
Following public health advice, the Government last Friday agreed that remaining aspects of the hospitality, entertainment and nighttime economy sector could reopen only with the continued implementation of the cert.
The Galway city restaurant claims that due to its refusal to comply with the measure, it has been constantly inspected by HSE compliance officers.
Four days ago, Il Vicolo began the online crowd fundraising campaign to become the first business in Ireland to challenge the Covid cert on the grounds of discrimination and breach of privacy law.
According to their fundraising page, those behind the campaign believe that the cert discriminates against people who may not be able to get a vaccine or who choose not to get a vaccine.
The campaign raised almost €70,000 in support of plans to mount a legal challenge.
The organisers said: “We believe that this divisive law is legally, morally, and ethically wrong. It discriminates against people who may not be able to get a vaccine or choose not to get a vaccine.
“It raises serious privacy law (GDPR) concerns about the processing of private sensitive health data. This law is dividing friends and families and risks destroying the entire social fabric of Irish society.”
The restaurant was served with a notice by a number of HSE compliance officers appointed under the Health Acts, otherwise known as the Indoor Dining Legislation, and has been inspected on several occasions due its stance. It was shut down for two days in September following a HSE application for an emergency cessation order.
Oisin Collins, senior counsel for the restaurant, submitted in court that the EU Digital Covid Certificate regulation provided for a third category of testing. This omission was a clear breach of the regulation itself, European privacy law, the Constitution, the European Charter of Fundamental Rights and the EU Convention on Human Rights, he submitted, adding that his position on the issue of discrimination was unanswerable.
Stephen Moran, BL for the HSE, said the Irish Government were effectively “at large” in relation to how they wished to deal with the issue of re-opening pubs and restaurants at a domestic level, given the serious threat to public health and the rise in cases due to the Delta variant.
District Judge, John King, having heard detailed submissions on discrimination, decided that he did not have to rule on this issue as the compliance notice only went so far as to require records rather than prohibit people from entering.
We have since been overwhelmed with the massive level of support that we have received
“This is only the start of the push back against discriminatory laws. We received a letter from the HSE on October 14th that they intend to start inspecting our restaurant again as there has been further complaints of non-compliance," the restaurant said.
“We intend to now challenge this discriminatory law to the Higher Court.”
Those behind the restaurant's campaign said they have been “overwhelmed” by the support they have received from the public.
“We have since been overwhelmed with the massive level of support that we have received because of our refusal to comply with this discriminatory law.
“A heartfelt thank you to each and every one of you as it has been truly inspiring to know that our supporters are as committed and passionate as we are in this fight to challenge injustice and inequality”.
The HSE said it does not comment on individual cases.