Nphet the ‘kingmaker’ in indoor dining reopening talks, industry says

‘No time’ to build smartphone app by July 19th while agreement needed ‘by Tuesday’

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) is the “kingmaker” over proposals for the reopening of the hospitality sector, the restaurant industry body has said.

"Whatever we come up with, will have to be approved by Nphet," Adrian Cummins, chief executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI), told RTÉ radio's Morning Ireland.

The sector had asked for Nphet to be “in the room” during talks, which had not happened, but they will be “brought into the process” at the weekend, he added.

Mr Cummins also called for an independent agency to ensure whatever proposals were agreed were run “properly”.


Extra supports for the sector would also be required, he said, as businesses would have to check customers before they enter a premises, adding “an extra layer of bureaucracy.”

Details of what will be required to reopen the sector will have to be agreed by next Tuesday, he said, to ensure that the reopening can coincide with the return of international travel on July 19th.

The proposal that only people who have been vaccinated be allowed avail of indoor dining narrowed a lot of options, said Mr Cummins. Antigen testing had been ruled out earlier in the week.

Any proposal would also have to be legal, and there were cost implications which necessitated a support package, he said, adding there was not enough time to build a smartphone app by July 19th.

Mr Cummins said any proposals would have to be “time limited” because as the vaccination programme continued, 80 per cent of the country would be vaccinated by the end of August or early September, which meant the scheme would not be needed and the sector could return to normality.

Ventilation was also among the options discussed, but nothing had yet been “signed off”.

There was a very short window of opportunity “so we don’t lose the summer” he said.

When asked about the possibility of documents being forged, Mr Cummins said it was not an ideal scenario, “but we need to get businesses open. We need a system that is verifiable so we can get the industry open.”