Representatives of the hospitality industry are pushing for a plan for the reopening of indoor hospitality to be agreed before the Government’s July 19th target date.
The Irish Times reports that the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) is arguing that this should happen, so businesses can prepare for the expected resumption of non-essential international travel on that date and the prospect of a return of tourists.
The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) has also said its view is that July 19th is the date pubs should be reopening, so a plan must be in place earlier.
Meanwhile, it is understood that the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) was not invited to take part in Monday’s meeting.
The Government last week adopted Nphet’s recommendation that indoor services in restaurants and pubs should only resume for people who have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from a recent Covid-19 infection.
The Cabinet agreed to prepare a plan – which could include the use of digital passes indicating if someone is vaccinated – by July 19th but gave the hospitality industry no indicative date for when they could open.
Speaking ahead of Monday afternoon’s meeting with senior Government officials, representatives of the sector have expressed disappointed that Nphet will not be taking part in the talks on Monday amid fears the public health advisory body could veto plans made in their absence.
RAI chief executive Adrian Cummins called on Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly to intervene to request that Nphet attend at some stage during the talks.
Mr Cummins said he wants Nphet to attend as: “Nphet are the kingmakers in the decision-making process and Government have always said they will follow public health advice.”
VFI chief executive Padraig Cribben argued that Nphet will be the “decision makers” and they “need to be at the table”.
Coalition sources said Monday’s meeting is to be an “initial” engagement between senior officials and the hospitality sector, and that Nphet will be consulted “at the appropriate time” in the process.
Mr Cummins said his organisation wants “a business-like approach seeking a workable, viable and authentic plan to reopen restaurants, pubs and cafes from July 19th, in line with the resumption of international travel.
He said: “It is critical we have a plan in place a week ahead of reopening international travel on July 19th in order for businesses to prepare to reopen as international tourists enter the State.”
He said the RAI “is willing to work night and day and we hope this is reciprocated on the Government side.”
Mr Cribben said he wants a plan for reopening to be agreed by the end of this week or early next week.
He said: “We’ve been very clear that we need a plan not by July 19th, we need a plan for July 19th.”