Thursday, 19 March 2020
An Bille Sláinte (Caomhnú agus Cosaint agus Bearta Éigeandála Eile Ar Mhaithe Le Leas an Phobail), 2020: Céim an Choiste agus na Céimeanna a bheidh Fágtha - Health (Preservation and Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Bill 2020: Committee and Remaining Stages
With the prohibition of events and gatherings, on Second Stage we discussed public houses. The Minister, Deputy Harris, issued a verbal directive at the weekend that pubs should close. In my constituency however, and in other parts of the State, some pubs have continued to trade. This is shocking and alarming, and local communities are outraged by this. I believe the Minister has engaged with the vintners on this issue. Will the Minister indicate whether he will, subsequent to the passing of the legislation, issue a written directive or a ministerial order ensuring that all pubs do close? We are aware that 99% of pubs have closed but others have gone rogue on us, unfortunately. Perhaps the Minister will clarify this. It is important from a public health perspective. It is also important for those publicans who have closed, who are employers and who hope to reopen at some future point and re-engage the staff, many of whom had to be laid off. These publicans now have an issue whereby their insurance companies are trying to step away from the liability. The companies are getting into a stand-off situation with the policy holders by saying that the directive was a verbal one and is non-binding. The pub trade needs a written directive or a written order from the Minister, Deputy Harris, or from the Government. Will the Minister confirm that he will do this after the passage of the legislation, or that he will do it in any event? We need crystal clear clarity on this please.