A Kerry restaurateur has begun a country-wide campaign to lobby the Government to re-open all tourism businesses including restaurants, cafés and pubs, indoors and outdoors, on the same day as hotels, currently scheduled to re-open on June 2.
'The Plan' was launched online last week by Paul Treyvaud, and has gained widespread attention, so much that a number of TD's have come out in support of the campaign including former Tourism Minister Brendan Griffin. Former Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan and TD Jim O' Callaghan have also shown support for the campaign as has TD Michael Healy-Rae.
Mr Treyvaud is also garnering wide-spread support across the county from businesses, thousands of whom are lobbying TD's as part of the campaign to ensure that all tourism businesses can re-open on the same day.
"This is about lobbying the Government, not about breaking the law .. The plan is that a piece of legislation extending the public health restrictions is up for renewal and we want to lobby TD's not to renew this in the current form as it will burn businesses in their constituencies. If they don't renew it, it will save tourism businesses," he said.
The legislation referred to by Mr Treyvaud is the proposed extension of Part 3 of the Health (Preservation and Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) 2020 which must be voted on before June 9 to allow public health restrictions to remain in place.
Mr Treyvaud has put together a letter for businesses to send to TD's outlining 13 reasons why all tourism businesses, indoor and outdoor, should re-open on the same day. Currently hotels can open on June 2 with residents allowed to eat indoors while outdoor dining across the country can re-open on June 7. No date has been set for indoor dining as of yet nor have the full restrictions on the operation of outdoor dining and the operation of dining in hotels being released. According to Fáilte Ireland a maximum of six poeple can sit at a table for outdoor dining but a time limit is not mentioned.
Mr Treyvaud said it's unfair to allow hotels to provide indoor dining while restaurants, bars and cafes have no idea when they'll be permitted to serve food indoors.
"They are treating us with contempt. We have to open on the same day as hotels. It is an unfair advantage to hotels."
Many of his concerns centre around the detrimental effect such a short operating season would have on the tourism businesses who are not allowed to open until July or later. The difficulty of getting staff is also a concern given that many people will choose to work in hotels who will open first. The potential for holidays abroad is also increasing and thus many people may choose to travel. This means Irish businesses will lose out if they are not allowed to re-open in early June, according to Mr Treyvaud.
"We just want a level playing field."
Mr Treyvaud has, however, refused to answer any questions on what he and other business supporting the plan will do if the public health legislation is extended and whether or not they will open on June 2 without or without Government approval.
"The ball is in the Government's court it is up to them to come on board."
""I am not going to answer what comes next."
Cllr Niall 'Botty' O'Callaghan who runs the Fáilte Hotel in Killarney is also advocating support for the campaign.
While he can re-open his hotel on June 2, the limited capacity he has will make it non-viable without the operation of indoor dining in the pub. He wants the Government to stop distinguishing between tourism businesses and allow all to open on n the same day in a safe and controlled manner and with guidelines.
"We want the hospitality sector to unite. We want all to open on June 2 wet pubs/dry pubs, restaurants, cafés. We want them to treat everybody the same. We want fairness," he said.
Cllr O'Callaghan said that last year in Kerry there was no outbreaks despite the huge influx of visitors which proves that indoor dining can operate in a safe environment.
"Vaccinations are very high now. By June 70% of people will be vaccinated and by the end of June 80% what number do they want? You have to trust the hospitality sector to be as safe as they were last year," he said.