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Reopening of night-time and hospitality sectors impossible under opposition’s Zero-Covid approach – Burke

20th October 2021 - Colm Burke TD

This week’s reopening of the night-time and live entertainment industries would have been impossible had the Government pursued a Zero-Covid approach as advocated for by opposition parties, a Fine Gael TD has said.

The Zero-Covid approach is based on limiting daily Covid cases to double or single digits, which would have resulted in the continued closure of almost all retail and hospitality businesses with no reopening date in sight, according to Fine Gael Spokesperson on Health, Deputy Colm Burke.

Deputy Burke said, “The reopening plan laid out by Government this week allows nightlife and live entertainment businesses to reopen their doors and ensures they can remain open over the winter due to the use of Digital Covid Certificates and a range of protective measures.

“While this is a good position to be in, it is vital the hospitality, entertainment and night-time economy sectors reopen safely, ensure the full range of protective measures are in place and the wide and robust implementation of the Covid-19 pass is ensured. Such practices will not alone ensure the best care is being provided, but also ensures all patrons feel safe when availing of cafes, pubs and nightclubs.

“It’s worth recalling that mere months ago, opposition parties were advocating for a Zero-Covid approach which would have effectively signalled the end for thousands of Irish businesses as they would have been shut until daily Covid cases were reduced to ten or less. Under our current trajectory, we would be locked up for years under this policy – with businesses from coffee shops to nightclubs not being able to open in any capacity.

“Since the onset, opposition have flip-flopped on their Covid responses, constantly switching between different approaches based on the most popular idea of the day.

“What is Labour’s position on Zero-Covid now? Should we reintroduce lockdown and shut all businesses until we reach single digit daily Covid cases? Several months on from her Op Ed advocating a Zero-Covid strategy, does Social Democrats Co-Leader Róisín Shortall stand by her policy position this week?

“The Government has prioritised the rollout of vaccinations, and along with a range of protective measures, our strategy for protecting public health now also allows for businesses to reopen and claw back some of the revenue lost during the height of the pandemic. While intensive engagement must continue this week between Government and industry stakeholders, Friday will be a positive day for many business owners who haven’t been able to open their doors for over a year and a half.

“Reopening the doors of nightclubs, theatres and live entertainment venues simply would not be possible, in any capacity, under a Zero-Covid policy approach. Protecting public health has been the Government’s top priority from day one, and with our hugely successful vaccine rollout, we can now allow society and businesses to reopen in a safe and cautious way,” concluded Deputy Burke.

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