The Taoiseach has warned the public to be vigilant of businesses that do not ask for a Covid pass, urging people to insist that restaurants and pubs follow basic rules.
Micheál Martin said avoiding the return of restrictions in the coming weeks and months would “demand vigilance” from members of the public.
Speaking on the fringes of an EU summit in Brussels, Mr Martin said there was a responsibility on the public to play its part in ensuring Covid rules were followed and to assess whether a venue was a safe establishment.
It comes as Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the Government was considering using the Private Security Authority, which regulates private security firms, to check that hospitality businesses were adhering to the regulations governing Covid certificates.
Mr Martin said: “The bottom line is this, to avoid any new restrictions coming in, to avoid going back, we will demand vigilance on behalf of the people generally, all of us. Therefore, when we go to establishments we should at least, as a minimum, insist that the basic standards have been applied and the consumer power can be very strong in that regard.”
He also said Gardaí should back the agencies involved in checking and monitoring the hospitality sector.
“I think fundamentally the operators need to engage and make sure there is compliance, as well as the public, that’s ultimately how you get the highest critical mass level of compliance that we require here, because the situation in relation to Covid is deteriorating across Europe with quite a number of member states,” Mr Martin added.
“We’re in a better position as we have a higher level of vaccination. We are concerned about what is happening in the UK, the numbers are going up there.”
He made the comments as new safety guidelines for nightclubs and live events are to be published today ahead of the reopening of nightclubs on Friday.
People going to nightclubs will be asked to show their Covid pass, and will have to wear a mask apart from when they are eating, drinking and dancing.
Mr Martin said he was concerned about the increase in numbers, adding that they have risen significantly in the last two weeks.
“We had numbers yesterday of 2,300, those are very high numbers that prior to the vaccination era would have necessitated a lockdown. So we are worried about those numbers,” Mr Martin added.
The Gardaí can be involved because it is a criminal offence not to enforce the law system
“I’m primarily worried about those numbers in respect of the impact on human life and health, and that’s the bottom line. So we all have to really collectively behave, because if the virus goes unchecked, it does impede our capacity to go about normal life as we would like.”
Mr Varadkar, who is also in Brussels, said the Government was looking at further options to ensure Covid rules were being followed.
“Obviously the Gardaí can be involved because it is a criminal offence not to enforce the law system,” Mr Varadkar said.
“We’re looking at involving the Private Security Agency as well because they’re involved in regulating bouncers, people at the door, and they’re out in the evening, so they might be part of the solution as well.
“But really what I would say to the industry (is) you've been closed for 600 days and we want you to stay open. The best way to do that is by making sure that you run a good house, and that means enforcing the Covid pass.
“We say to people as well, you’re going into restaurants and pubs, you need to be saying “make sure you check my pass”, because if that premises isn’t checking your pass, they’re not running a safe shop, and they’re putting their own business at risk.”