The Rural Independent Group has called on the government to fully reopen the tourism, hospitality and aviation sectors – and allow 350,000 people the right to get back to work.
It has claimed that delaying indoor pub and restaurant dining is like taking another wrecking ball to the economy.
“The government is wobbling like a bowl of jelly, afraid to make decisions contrary to NPHET advice, while making announcements that are as clear as mud!” the group stated.
Its leader, deputy Mattie McGrath, described the government’s decision to postpone the reopening of indoor hospitality, beyond next Monday (July 5th) as “another calamity that is holding the country to ransom”.
He believes this move completely undermines the vaccination programme.
“The discrepancy in the NPHET advice is so grossly disproportionate that it reminds us of the figures plucked from the sky by bankers before the government granted an unlimited blanket guarantee.”
“Figures from other countries where indoor dining is permitted, and where the Delta variant is circulating, illustrates that the NPHET advice is way off the mark.”
200,000 jobs in hospitality sector on the line
“Despite the entire NPHET modelling over the past year and a half having been wrong on almost every occasion, the government continue to blindly follow, like a rudderless vessel.”
The deputy believes it is time for “rigorous” independent analysis of NPHET’s projection models.
“This dreadful decision means that 200,000 jobs in the hospitality sector are now on the line. It also means that indoor religious sacraments, such as communions and confirmations planned for July, are now banned.”
He stated that Ireland is the only country in Europe or North America to currently ban indoor dining in a pub or restaurant. “This is despite similar vaccinated populations and the same threat from the Delta variant.”
“Restrictions in Ireland are utterly out of kilter with the rest of the world. This means our tourism industry is being decimated and may take years to fully recover.”
“The last-minute change to reopen is a real kick in the teeth to everyone. It means the main summer season will be over before reopening occurs.”
‘Irreversible damage to economy and society’
He said right across Europe this week, there are football stadiums full of spectators, and life returned to near normality.
“Meanwhile, in Ireland, we see an excessive and completely draconian approach doing grave, irreversible damage to our economy and society.”
He said the “farcical” government position means they are now considering allowing only vaccinated individuals to dine indoors.
“This would mean a two-tier society where unvaccinated younger people would be banned from indoor dining but allowed to serve drinks and meals to other indoor diners.”
He believes this is “completely insane” and penalises our young people disproportionately.
“How can government ministers, earning over €200,000 yearly and insulated from financial hardship, seriously continue to deny the 200,000 workers in hospitality and the 143,000 aviation sector workers the right to earn an income?” McGrath concluded.