Restaurants reopen  | 

Dublin publican reveals why he decided not to open his three venues for indoor dining

“The rules that are being made will mean certain parties will come to your door and you may have to turn away 50% of them because they’re not vaccinated, which is going to cause ­hassle,” he said.

Publican Ian Lacey.

Neil Fetherstonhaugh

The owner of three Dublin pubs has predicted “a bit of a disaster for the next couple of weeks” as indoor dining opens up today.

Ian Lacey has made a decision not to reopen indoors in all three of his pubs, the Shamrock Lodge in Finglas, Becky Morgan’s on Grand Canal Street, and the Lincoln’s Inn, located beside Trinity College.

Mr Lacey said there were quite a ­number of reasons why he made that ­decision, “but the main reason was ­because he believes that the new ­guidelines surrounding the reopening “are very unfair”.

“The rules that are being made will mean certain parties will come to your door and you may have to turn away 50% of them because they’re not vaccinated, which is going to cause ­hassle,” he said.

“You’re also going to be refusing regulars who won’t all agree with the rules. It’s very discriminatory I suppose, against just about everyone.

“And we just feel that it might hurt our business more, by going along with it, because there might be some negative feedback in us having to discriminate, which is what we’re being told to do,” he said

The long-awaited guidelines were published late on Friday night, leaving ­publicans and restaurateurs with only two days to implement the ­comprehensive plans.

Only those who are fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 in the last six months will be allowed to eat and drink indoors.

The rules also state that every ­restaurant and pub will have to record the details of every customer entering the premises, for contact tracing.

Personal details will have to be produced alongside a copy of a Covid certificate to show they are either fully vaccinated or have had the virus.

All patrons, except those under the age of 18, will be required to provide their name and phone number. The data will be kept for 28 days and must be compliant with GDPR.

Mr Lacey said it wasn’t a tough decision to make, as he also didn’t want to put any of his staff through the ordeal of having to deal with the new rules.

“A number of my staff are not vaccinated because of their age,” he said.

“And they are being asked to do this job, and to adhere by the guidelines, when they’re not even allowed go to a pub on their night off and have a drink because they’re not vaccinated.

“There’s also a hell of a lot of labour in what’s involved, in relation to scanning each person’s personal details onto an app which we don’t know anything about,” he added.

“We still haven’t been given the ­information on which app to use to scan the customers in.

And then we have to take their name, their phone number and seat them. It’s very, very labour intensive but the main reason for me not to reopen is, it just doesn’t feel right, to be honest, to be alienating a portion of our customers.

“I can see it being a bit of a disaster for the next couple of weeks,” he added.

“Of course, I’m sure there are pubs out there that will have to open because they have no choice, because they have no outdoor areas.

“I completely understand the need to reopen, but I’m lucky enough in that my three premises have some outdoor space, so it’s made the decision a little bit easier for me I can still serve my customers outside without having to discriminate against any of them.”

The draft guidelines for the hospitality sector also state that customers can avail of table service, however they cannot approach or order from the bar or other counter.

They are also required to wear face coverings at all times other than when seated at their table.

Musical performance, dancing or other entertainment or mingling between tables is not allowed, while multiple tables cannot be booked. Entrance points to bars and ­restaurants will be covered by staff who will use a scanner to check the vaccination status of each customer.

There are no time limits on indoor dining, however premises must be clear of all customers by 11.30pm.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has ­acknowledged the new system will be “inconvenient” for businesses, but he said it is the only way to reopen indoor dining.

“The restrictions being applied to this reopening are designed to be a temporary measure, and hugely important for the sector and their customers,” he said.

“I know that operating this new system will be inconvenient for business and could add to staff costs.

“It is, however, the only way we can reopen and stay open throughout this Delta wave.

“Hopefully it will not be necessary in a few months’ time, but it is good to have it in place in case it is.

“There will be teething problems and we will work with the industry to review and amend the regulations as needed and based on practical experience.”

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