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virus risk Vast majority pubs and restaurants have NOT been inspected for Covid rule compliance

It comes amid anecdotal evidence that some premises are already failing to strictly implement the rules, particularly at busy times.

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People enjoy the return of outdoor dining during the good weather in Dublin city centre.   Picture: Gerry Mooney

People enjoy the return of outdoor dining during the good weather in Dublin city centre. Picture: Gerry Mooney

People enjoy the return of outdoor dining during the good weather in Dublin city centre. Picture: Gerry Mooney

THE vast majority of pubs and restaurants have not yet been inspected for compliance with Covid regulations, more than three weeks since reopening.

New figures obtained by The Herald show that just over 2,000 checks have been carried out so far.

With at least 15,000 restaurant, coffee shop, hotel and pub premises around the country, many would not be inspected before Christmas at the current rate.

The figures reveal a low level of non-compliance with indoor hospitality regulations - but also poor chances of a rogue premises being detected by routine inspection.

It comes amid anecdotal evidence that some premises are already failing to strictly implement the rules, particularly at busy times.

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Cork fans

Cork fans

Cork fans

Thousands of ticketless Cork and Limerick hurling fans are set to descend on Dublin for the All-Ireland final tomorrow - with gardaí and health chiefs issuing a special Covid-19 safety warning.

Pubs are expected to be busy across the country for the annual sporting occasion, with many other people enjoying weekend breaks or staycations.

The Health Service Executive (HSE) and the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) are both charged with inspections. Gardaí have no role.

The HSE has carried out a total of 2,212 compliance checks under the new regulations to date.

Two-thirds of premises were compliant and the vast bulk of the rest had minor further improvements to make.

Only 3pc were deemed to be non-compliant. The HSA has a smaller team of 70 inspectors, who have done a total of just 165 checks from the date of the resumption of indoor dining on Monday, July 26 to Friday, August 13. The HSA said it had found only a 4pc non-compliance rate by premises.

Of the 96pc deemed compliant, 16pc were believed to have more to do to achieve full accordance with the rules.

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There are an estimated 2,500 restaurants in Ireland, with 8,000 pubs, 1,000 hotels and guesthouses, 1,650 coffee shops and 2,000 cafés or fast-food premises.

No geographical breakdown was available for the checks.

Fines of up to €2,500 can be imposed, but it is understood no penalties have yet been invoked under the Health Act 1947 (Operation of certain indoor premises) Regulations 2021. The two agencies say they are "collaborating closely" and sharing data to avoid duplication.

"In businesses where non-compliance or the need for additional measures were identified, appropriate follow- up and engagement is now being undertaken by HSE compliance officers," a spokesman said.

The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) said: "The focus of the compliance checks is on supporting the relevant indoor operators to understand their responsibilities of ensuring only permitted persons who have provided a proof of immunity dine or drink indoors."

There will be extra pressure on pubs and restaurants this weekend as they deal with large numbers of people gathering to watch the GAA.

HSE Department of Public Health official Dr Philippa White appealed to fans to adhere to Covid-19 safety guidelines.

"We encourage everyone to remember to socialise safely - wear a mask in crowded places, and keep two metres from people not in your household," she said.

"If you are in a crowded place, think about moving to somewhere less crowded and with good ventilation, so that you can enjoy the game in safety and comfort."

She urged people who are not vaccinated to take extra care this weekend.

A public health warning has been issued for Limerick and the wider mid-west in the wake of an expected increase in social gatherings.

Pubs in the Treaty City are booked up with fans hoping to kickstart a weekend of celebrations Shannonside.

Three people infected with Covid-19 were yesterday fighting for their lives at the intensive care unit at University Hospital Limerick (UHL).

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Taoiseach Micheal Martin (PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin (PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin (PA)

In a joint statement, the HSE, UL Hospitals Group, and Public Health Mid West urged supporters in the region to act responsibly to prevent a serious outbreak of Covid-19.

Dr Breda Cosgrove, a specialist in public health medicine, said: "Unfortunately, we have seen a significant increase in Covid-19 case numbers in Limerick in the past week.

"While the All-Ireland hurling final is an important sporting event, we urge that, if you are socialising this weekend, that you do so safely and that you adhere to public health guidance."

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