Restaurants Association "didn't know until yesterday" that 200 people could gather outdoors 2 months ago

Restaurants Association "didn't know until yesterday" that 200 people could gather outdoors

“We are disappointed that it took an event for 50 people to bring this announcement around."

The CEO of the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) Adrian Cummins has said that the hospitality sector "didn't know until yesterday" that 200 people were permitted to gather outdoors for social reasons.

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The Attorney General’s advice was contained in a Government statement which was issued on Wednesday after controversy surrounding a 50 person event organised at the Merrion Hotel by Katherine Zappone, and attended by Leo Varadkar.

Zappone subsequently confirmed on Wednesday that she will not accept the appointment as Special Envoy on freedom of opinion and expression.

“It was news to our industry that we’re now allowed up to 200 people for outdoor gatherings within social settings,” Cummins told Newstalk Breakfast on Thursday morning.

“We didn’t know that until yesterday until the Attorney-General made the announcement. We welcome the announcement because it gives us extra capacity and extra revenue opportunity.”

Cummins added that he was happy to see the guidelines updated but the sector had missed a "huge amount of revenue" by the announcement not being made until news broke of the gathering at the Merrion hotel.

“We are disappointed that it took an event for 50 people to bring this announcement around and delivered to the industry," he added.

“Nobody knew, and there was a lot of confusion over the last number of days. We have always been instructed to look at the Fáilte Ireland guidelines, but it wasn’t there.

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“So we have the issue now clarified, we now know we can have up to 200 people outside.

“There’s a lot of businesses that have turned away a lot of business over the last number of weeks because they did not know, through the Fáilte Ireland guidelines, that they could have up to 200 people at an outdoor event."

Fáilte Ireland has said that it will meet Government officials today to update the guidelines and give the hospitality industry clarification on the holding of outdoor social events.

“I think we need to move forward, I think Fáilte Ireland needs to correct the guidelines this morning, and I think somebody needs to say sorry to our industry that has been economically flattened since last March,” Cummins continued.