The Government’s plan to limit indoor activities to those who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 has been described as “discriminatory and “unenforceable” in the Dail.
During Leaders’ Questions, Labour leader Alan Kelly called on the Government to rescind its decision, describing it as “absolutely bananas” and “shocking stuff”, while Independent TD Mattie McGrath accused the Government of trying to create a system of “apartheid”.
The Government confirmed on Tuesday that drinking and eating inside bars and restaurants will be delayed for several weeks.
It was due to resume on July 5.
🍴 Indoor activities, such as organised events, return of service in bars and restaurants, group training, exercise and dance will not yet proceed, pending the implementation of a system to verify vaccination or immunity. Gov will devise an implementation plan by July 19th— MerrionStreet.ie (@merrionstreet) June 29, 2021
Instead it plans to allow indoor dining to resume in the coming weeks for those who are fully vaccinated or who have immunity from the virus.
Mr Kelly said: “What you’re saying is that I can go in and get a meal down the street in a restaurant or go for a pint. My colleague here, Duncan Smith, sitting behind me, can’t,” he added.
“I’ve to leave him sitting outside the door. That’s discrimination. That’s wrong. In Ireland, we don’t practice discrimination. Certainly, governments shouldn’t be pushing it, which is effectively what you’re doing.
The govt are expecting unvaccinated young people to continue working in hospitality and retail sectors but not be allowed sit indoors for a pint or a meal @alankellylabour has said this is bananas, the young people of Ireland deserve better ✊🌹 pic.twitter.com/Njffsuetp8— The Labour Party (@labour) June 29, 2021
“I think you’re going to learn a big political lesson over the coming days, weeks. No, I’ll rephrase that – over the coming seconds, minutes, hours, in relation to this decision.
“You’re going to have to rescind it. It’s not practical. It’s unenforceable and it’s discriminatory.”
Independent TD Mattie McGrath accused the Government of planning an “apartheid system” in the country.
He told the Dail: “Despite already being an outlier in Europe, and most of the rest of the world, the Government are now delaying the reopening of the hospitality industry.
“It’s just pure madness, and I believe (they are) are also planning an apartheid system in our country.”
He said it would lead to a two-tier society.
“Nphet’s advice is completely bonkers,” he added.
“It lacks any balance and understanding of the reality, delaying indoor entertainment at pubs and restaurants is taking another wrecking ball to the economy, and tens of thousands of individual lives and families will have been destroyed.”
He said some 200,000 jobs were now on the line.
“I think this is outrageous. We need an independent analysis of Nphet’s advice. We’ve none.”
Transport Minister Eamon Ryan, who was taking Leaders’ Questions, defended the Government’s decision.
He said ministers wanted to sit down with industry stakeholders before devising and developing a plan.
“The appropriate approach was not to jump to a conclusion or to immediately offer a solution,” he said.
“It was to say, we need now to establish a plan, which actually gives us a further certain path to reopening which will not be opening and then closing again.”
He added: “There is no discrimination in the intent behind the Government but we did have to listen to the analysis that the health officials presented.”
He told TDs that the Government does not want to provide false promises.
“What we don’t want is kind of false promises where we say: ‘Everything is fine, sure, Delta doesn’t exist, it’s not a problem, we can ignore what Nphet say, we’re not worried about the modelling,’ and we find ourselves in greater difficulties later in the summer, but that is one of the possibilities if we were to ignore the advice that is given, and that’s not what we’re going to do.”