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Security authority may have a role in ensuring nightclubs, pubs and restaurants check covid pass - Tánaiste

  • Taoiseach says not all sectors of hospitality will be treated same in new guidelines

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The Private Security Authority (PSA) may have a role in conducting spot checks of pubs, nightclubs and restaurants to ensure that Covid passes are being enforced.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that there should “absolutely” be spot checks and said that the Government is looking at involving the PSA which currently licences door and event security for the State. 

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Speaking to reporters in Brussels, he said that Gardaí also have a “role” in the enforcement of the passes but that Gardaí may not necessarily be the ones conducting spot checks.

It comes as Taoiseach Micheál Martin has admitted that not all parts of the hospitality sector will be given the same treatment under new guidelines, which are currently being finalised by Government officials.

His comments come as Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said yesterday that he is in favour of better enforcement of the passes.

“The Gardaí can be involved because it is a criminal offence not to enforce the Covid pass system, and we’re looking at involving the private security agency as well because they’re involved in regulating bouncers, people at the door and they’re out in the evening, so they might be part of the solution as well,” said Mr Varadkar.

He said that which agency conducts the spot checks will be “clarified today”.

“In short, spot checks, checks, absolutely has to be done, who does them I suppose has to be clarified today.

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“I think the appropriate agencies are obviously the HSA, the Workplace Relations Commission, we’ve hired more inspectors for both bodies. The Gardaí have a role to play as well and we’re also examining the role of the Private Security Authority,” he added.

It is possible that the PSA would asked to carry out spot checks on premises in the same way that the HSA currently does. 

Also speaking in Brussels, the Taoiseach admitted that not all parts of the hospitality sector will be given the same treatment under new guidelines, which are currently being finalised by Government officials.

Ahead of nightclubs reopening tomorrow, the sector was supposed to receive its own set of guidelines, as well as updated advice for pubs and restaurants.

Music and live event industry representatives, as well as nightclub promoters, have criticised the Government for “anomalies” in the new restrictions, such as allowing dancing in nightclubs but not at gigs.

Speaking to reporters in Slovenia, Micheál Martin appealed to hospitality sectors to not be “looking at the sector next door and saying, ‘I want a bit of that’.

“Right throughout the pandemic, that has been happening.”

He said that the Government faced criticism when it initially allowed dining indoors for hotel restaurants and their guests but not for other restaurants.

“We were doing that deliberately, gradually, on a phased basis to get the thing reopen properly.

“There’s a reason for the progression of measures and different sectors are different experiences,” Mr Martin said.

He added that the hospitality sector has “many sub-sectors” which includes “overlapping issues like late night bars and nightclubs”.

However, Mr Martin admitted that it cannot be the case that one rule for a part of the sector can apply to all parts of the sector.

“But we can’t have what prevails, say, in one smaller sub-sector, prevailing in the entirety of the sector. There’s legitimate issues there from a regulatory perspective and a Government perspective to try and ring fence and to try and protect as much as we possibly can.

He said that the country is in a “much better position” this autumn than last year in relation to the virus and that if current rates of daily cases were recorded this time last year, the country would be going into lockdown.

Mr Martin admitted that he is “concerned” about current daily numbers and the impact that they will have on “human life and health”.

Speaking to reporters in Slovenia, Micheál Martin appealed to hospitality sectors to not be “looking at the sector next door and saying, ‘I want a bit of that’.

“Right throughout the pandemic, that has been happening.”

He said that the Government faced criticism when it initially allowed dining indoors for hotel restaurants and their guests but not for other restaurants.

“We were doing that deliberately, gradually, on a phased basis to get the thing reopen properly.

“There’s a reason for the progression of measures and different sectors are different experiences,” Mr Martin said.

He added that the hospitality sector has “many sub-sectors” which includes “overlapping issues like late night bars and nightclubs”.

However, Mr Martin admitted that it cannot be the case that one rule for a part of the sector can apply to all parts of the sector.

“But we can’t have what prevails, say, in one smaller sub-sector, prevailing in the entirety of the sector. There’s legitimate issues there from a regulatory perspective and a Government perspective to try and ring fence and to try and protect as much as we possibly can.

He said that the country is in a “much better position” this autumn than last year in relation to the virus and that if current rates of daily cases were recorded this time last year, the country would be going into lockdown.

Mr Martin admitted that he is “concerned” about current daily numbers and the impact that they will have on “human life and health”.

This article was updated on October 22, 2021 to reflect the fact the Tánaiste said the Private Security Authority may be involved in spot checks on premises to ensure Covid passes are enforced. The original article suggest private security firms could be involved in these checks.

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