NPHET has recommended pubs and restaurants close at 5pm as soon as possible, as the Omicron variant spreads here.
Health officials have also called for indoor and outdoor events to be capped at a maximum of 50 per cent capacity.
They haven't recommended the early closure of schools for Christmas, or further limits on household visits. It follows a five and a half hour meeting yesterday.
The Cabinet sub-committee on Covid is meeting this afternoon to debate the advice.
Padraig Cribben, from the Vintners' Federation of Ireland, says it's devastating news for the hospitality sector;
"This is an absolute bombshell that nobody had anticipated and in essence it is the equivalent of full closure for most businesses."
Fianna Fáil Senators jointly opposing the NPHET recommendation for a 5pm closing time for the hospitality sector pic.twitter.com/OiwWe2QtgU
— Seán Defoe (@SeanDefoe) December 17, 2021
There's open revolt over the pub advice from Government backbenchers.
Senator Lisa Chambers said later closing times are warranted.
“It is the view of our group here today that the proposed 5pm closing time is a step too far,”
5pm closing for hospitality means many rural pubs can’t open at all as they often only open in the evening. People will socialise at home. Surely it’s better and safer to have regulated spaces like bars and restaurants? @RAI_ie @VFIpubs
— Lisa Chambers (@lichamber) December 17, 2021
Former Minister Barry Cowen said a 9pm or 10pm curfew would be better while former Fine Gael Minister Regina Doherty has said if people can't get a pint and a pizza after 5pm she ‘gives up.’
Obviously am not privy to specific details of nphet recommendations but surely a 9 or 10pm curfew with weekly review of figures. Ramp up boosters with updated Covid certs for entrance to all indoor events. People open to compromise not confrontation in interest of public health
— Barry Cowen (@CowenBarry) December 17, 2021
Lorraine Heskin is the Owner and CEO of Gourmet Food Parlour, she says we need to learn to live with the virus;
"Every single industry in this country and every single business, we need to be able to live with this and we need to be able to operate our businesses in the way we want to and in a safe way for customers and our staff."