Restaurants chief says "fake bookings" being made in protest of indoor hospitality rules is "a huge issue"
"Since the announcement around the reopening of indoor hospitality, we've seen fake bookings coming in at a rate of knots into businesses..."
Chief Executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland Adrian Cummins says people making "fake bookings" in protest of the new indoor dining rules is "a huge issue".
On Friday night, Fáilte Ireland published the draft guidelines for the partial return of indoor hospitality on Monday.
It had previously been revealed that indoor hospitality will return from 26 July in pubs and restaurants for people vaccinated against or recovered from Covid-19, as well as under-18s accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Appearing on RTÉ's The Business, Cummins was asked about reports of people critical of the new indoor hospitality rules block booking pubs and restaurants with no attention of showing up.
On whether he had come across the issue with members of his association, Cummins said: "Yes, it's a huge issue over the last 48 hours.
"Since the announcement around the reopening of indoor hospitality, we've seen fake bookings coming in at a rate of knots into businesses to book up tables to try and disrupt our reopening plans for hospitality.
"I think the businesses need to be aware of that. I think they have to have their own internal policies around how they take reservations.
"They may take credit cards just to make sure that there's a genuine booking going forward as a deposit scheme. That's their own decision.
"It's another challenge for our industry that we have to face as we reopen."
Cummins' then reminded people that some businesses have been closed for 496 days.
"They just want to get open and get trading again, meet their customers that they haven't seen in about 15, 16 months. That's what they want to do," the restaurant chief added.
As part of the draft guidelines published yesterday, staff in pubs and restaurants will have to be deployed at all entrances in use to make sure no customers can enter without being checked for "proof of immunity" and photo ID.
Speaking about this, Cummins said: "That came at the 11th hour to our industry, our negotiations with the government.
"It is going to add extra workload to businesses. That workload means extra costs because they have to have staff to man all of those entrances into businesses."
He also stated that restaurants were having difficulty trying to recruit extra staff.
Cummins said that he thinks there will be a percentage of restaurants that will not open indoor dining on Monday due to the added pressures.
"It could be up as far as 25%... That's my gut feeling based on listening to businesses. They will wait and see. They may open on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday."