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clampdown Health inspectors plan bank holiday blitz on pubs not checking Covid passports

Dr Tony Holohan’s Covid cert was not checked at Dublin Airport when arriving from abroad last week

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Dr Tony Holohan (PA)

Dr Tony Holohan (PA)

Dr Tony Holohan (PA)

Health inspectors will blitz pubs and restaurants over the October bank holiday weekend, as part of fresh drive to ramp up compliance with Covid-19 rules across the hospitality sector.

Amid mounting concerns over a lack of compliance in some sections of the industry, a meeting of the Government’s Regulatory Forum was held yesterday afternoon.

The high-level group, which includes gardaí, the HSE and senior Government officials, agreed there is a need for a major clampdown on businesses who fail to ask customers for their Digital Covid Certificates and identification before entry.

It comes as new figures show the HSE carried out 5,621 checks of businesses providing indoor hospitality since July.

Just under 70pc (3,864) of businesses were found to be fully compliant with Covid-19 measures, while 2pc (136) were non-compliant. The remaining 28pc (1593) were found to require additional compliance measures.

This weekend, HSE environmental health officers and Health and Safety Authority (HSA) inspectors will be calling into pubs and restaurants to ensure better compliance.

Gardaí will also increase their presence on streets in an attempt to address anti-social behaviour linked to the easing of restrictions on bars and nightclubs.

They will also be checking to see if businesses are adhering to licensing laws on opening hours, which this weekend return to normal for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

A government spokesperson said the Regulatory Forum agreed to “double down on compliance activity” to ensure public health measures are being adhered to in the restaurants, pub and cafes that have reopened in recent months.

He said there is also a need to ensure businesses which will soon open, such as nightclubs, follow the same rules.

“This is one plank to work alongside communications and sectoral guidelines,” he said. “The role of compliance here is more about support of sectors, and encouraging rather than enforcement.”

A senior Government source said it will be “all hands on deck” over the weekend, as concerns continue over the continued rise of new cases of Covid.

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Yesterday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin signalled the renewed focus on enforcing compliance with the requirement to produce a Digital Covid Certificate to enter a restaurant, pub or cafe.

Mr Martin said he will take a personal interest in ensuring certs and identification are being checked across the hospitality sector before customers are permitted to eat or drink inside.

“I’ll be looking for more regular compliance reports in respect of adherence to the presentation of Digital Covid Certs and other protective measures. I have asked my secretary general to compile that report,” he said.

Meanwhile, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said customers should complain if pubs and restaurants don’t enforce Covid passes properly

Mr Holohan has said he is in favour of better enforcement of Covid passes at pubs and restaurants, and that if owners want to “attract and maintain” loyal customers, they should enforce the passes properly.

“Maybe it isn’t the easiest thing for people – particularly in this country – to start to complain to a restaurant when they go in,” he said.

“But the ideal thing would be to leave and to not go back to that environment.”

Dr Holohan said if owners want to build “loyal customers”, they should have protective measures in place – including the use of hand sanitiser.

“If bars and restaurants understand that, in order to attract and maintain loyal customers, they must offer an environment which is safe,” added Dr Holohan.

He also revealed that his own Covid certificate was not checked when arriving into Dublin Airport from abroad last week.

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