The government has been accused of ‘rushing through legislation’ to reopen hospitality in ‘a complete information vacuum.’
Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall was commenting yesterday following the publication of legislation on reopening the hospitality sector.
“The Health Committee had a briefing this morning and members were more confused afterwards than they had been before,” Deputy Shortall said.
“This is no reflection on the officials who provided that briefing, they simply didn’t have the information to answer our questions.
“Even government ministers are confused – and it is their plan. There have now been conflicting reports from government on whether GPs can issue ‘recovery’ certs, the establishment of the helpline and the length of time, after someone recovers from covid, they will be deemed immune.
“The legislation that was published today is a skeletal plan and the Minister for Health intends to put flesh on its bones using regulations. Consequently, none of the technical detail, which will govern how the plan operates, is contained in the Bill. All of that will be worked out at some later date.
“Coupled with the dearth of information on the plan, is the complete absence of information about enforcement. Bluntly, there is no clarity on how these measures will be enforced.
“We have been told that Environmental Health Officers and Health and Safety Inspectors will be tasked with inspecting premises for compliance. There are approximately 420 of these workers in the country. Are we to understand they will be dropping their existing work to undertake compliance inspections of the hospitality sector from next week? Have they been told?
“Nor has there been any clarity on the role of the Gardaí in respect of enforcement.
“Disappointingly, there is no reference to ventilation anywhere in the government’s published legislation. How can it be, more than 18 months into this airborne pandemic, there are no clear guidelines on ventilation or the maximum number of people that should be in premises? This glaring omission can only be described as negligent.
“It is vitally important that indoor hospitality is safe when it reopens – and that premises can stay open when they reopen. There is nothing in the government’s confused and incoherent plan that provides assurances in that regard.”