Monday, 26 April 2021
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
This morning, I want to address the reopening of the hospitality sector. With many pubs having been closed for more than 400 days, it is important this reopening is done in a fair and equitable manner. In particular, traditional pubs, which do not serve food, should be given the same opportunity as the rest of the hospitality sector.
I also believe it is important to have an all-Ireland approach. In recent days, I spoke to Councillor Raymond Aughey, who runs a hospitality business in Monaghan. It is clear that if a separate approach is taken by this jurisdiction and Northern Ireland for any prolonged period of time, it will be extremely challenging for businesses in the Border counties. Northern Ireland has removed the substantial meal requirement and will allow all businesses to open for outdoor trading from this Friday. In three weeks' time, it will allow indoor trading to resume. We should follow a similar pattern, allowing outdoor services to resume at the end of May, without any substantial meal requirement, and indoor services to resume when we have reached the target of 80% of adults having received their first vaccination by the end of June.
As with all people and businesses, the vast majority of those operating in the hospitality sector must follow all Government guidelines. I know people and businesses in Galway will adhere to those guidelines. The control setting of a hospitality business, where guidelines are being implemented and social distancing is in place, will be far safer options than most socialising forms that will be chosen this summer. Businesses within the hospitality sector have been hammered for well over a year.The summer is always the busiest time of the year. It is essential that we ensure all who operate in this sector are given the chance to open, are given further supports to allow them to rebuild and are given an opportunity to survive a crisis which they had no part in making.