Venues not sticking to rules should be severely sanctioned

Comment & Opinion

FINE OR CLOSE Venues that do not ask customers for proof of their EU Digital Covid Cert should be fined or temporarily closed.

Government must crack down on noncompliant hospitality businesses

IT is now less than 50 days to Christmas, and with the number of Covid cases remaining stubbornly high across the country, it is clear the festivities will again be seriously curtailed due to the prevalence of the virus.
An Taoiseach Micheál Martin is today due to meet representatives from the hospitality industry after the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) found that the number of outlets not asking customers for Covid-19 certification had almost doubled in a month.

Not good enough
The research found that 37 percent of indoor diners in pubs said they were not asked for their EU Digital Covid Cert, compared with 21 percent the previous month. For restaurants, 34 percent of diners said they were not asked for their cert.
This is clearly not good enough, as we are trying hard to limit the spread of the virus. The only way the Government can tackle this issue is to bring in severe sanctions for those businesses not adhering to the simple guidelines.
The best way to deal with this problem is to hit the non-compliant businesses in the pocket with on-the-spot fines or short closures.
It simply is irresponsible that some are ignoring the rules, especially when they are so straightforward, and the public in general have no problem with carrying their Covid Cert with them and showing it when asked.

Targeted penalties
The Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, thankfully said on Monday that a targeted approach is the way to go.
“We shouldn’t be penalising the many hospitality outlets who are doing exactly the right thing and who are trading safely. If the industry, if that large minority, do not start doing the right thing I certainly would be in favour of more rapid sanctions against not the industry, but the outlets who are not doing the right thing,” said the Minister.
The Government should proceed as quickly as possible with imposing such sanctions.

Another grim milestone
Here in Mayo, we passed another Covid landmark over the weekend, with the total number of people to have died as a result of contracting the virus having reached 200, according to new data released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
The latest series of Covid-19 deaths and cases released by the CSO on Friday last show that up until Friday, October 29, 200 people have now died in Mayo with Covid-19 deaths.
The data also show that Mayo now has the sixth-highest number of Covid-19 deaths by county in the country, behind Dublin (1,799 deaths), Cork (470), Kildare (303), Limerick (246) and Louth (207). Eight of the deaths in Mayo occurred since the beginning of September.
This alone illustrates that Covid has not gone away, and the threat to public health and the ability of our creaking national health service to cope is as strong as ever. Society – and that includes business – needs to adhere to the restrictions still in place, so we can avoid more lockdowns in the coming weeks. We still all have a part to play.