Eire turns to vaccine passes to reopen its hospitality trade

People love to drink Guinness outside a pub in Dublin city center. On Monday 5th July 2021 in Dublin, Ireland.

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DUBLIN – Despite the spread of the highly contagious Delta Coronavirus variant, Ireland is relying on “vaccine passports” to fully reopen its bars and restaurants.

Ireland Tourism and hospitality dealt with stop-and-starts on reopening during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Office work resumed on July 26th in a kind of photo finish, with the government and hospitality industry setting the guidelines for the reopening that morning. This included final adjustments to the restaurant’s contact tracking requirements.

The main differentiator this time around is that restaurants and bars are only allowed to open their doors to fully vaccinated people or people who have recovered from Covid-19 in the last six months. Outdoor seating remains available to all visitors.

The big test for businesses will be doing these customer vaccination checks.

The main means of proof of vaccination will be the EU’s digital Covid certificate, the same document on which Europe is pinning its hopes for revitalizing tourism on the continent.

Restaurants and bars are expected to scan the QR code on the certificate and check a customer’s ID to make sure they are fully vaccinated.

Noel Anderson is the managing director of Dublin restaurants Lemon & Duke and The Bridge 1859 and chairman of the trading association of the Licensed Vintners Association.

He told CNBC that in the first few days of reopening, customers are still opting for outdoor seating, but his staff have been trained on the new protocols, especially as the summer weather wears off.

“I firmly believe that this will be over in two or three weeks and that this will just be the norm. Hopefully it won’t be the norm for too long, ”he said.

He and many other hospitality businesses declined to request vaccination controls on the door.

“Ultimately, this was a government initiative. This was not being pushed by the pubs, but by the LVA, of which I am chairman, we didn’t want that,” he said.

“Either you want to stay closed until September and beyond, or that’s how you open it. When you have members who are closed [for over a year], you have no choice but to take it. “

data protection

The requirement of a vaccination certificate to enter a company premises has drawn some criticism, as it is claimed that it is discriminatory for unvaccinated people, while so-called vaccination cards or passports can also be tricky initiatives set up from a data protection and security point of view.

A spokesman for the Irish Data Protection Commission said hospitality companies need to be careful about the amount of data they collect and process and delete unneeded information.

“Owners / operators should not keep records that identify named people and details of their vaccinations or copies of certificates or identification documents as this is not required to meet their compliance obligations,” the DPC said.

The processing of personal data must be “justified on the basis of necessity and proportionality,” it said.

“The DPC has also made it clear that Covid-related laws must be time-bound and limited by sunset clauses to the duration of the pandemic in order to prevent excessive and disproportionate processing of personal data.”

Ireland won’t be an outlier in Europe for long when it comes to hospitality vaccination certificates France and Italy Introduction of similar requirements for entering bars, restaurants and cafes.

Careful approach

Not every bar and every restaurant wants to reopen its office staff. Pantibar, a popular gay bar in Dublin, has decided to keep Back office closed as most of the young employees are not yet fully vaccinated.

Another restaurateur, Barry McNerney, told CNBC that his Juniors and Paulie’s Pizza restaurants are not yet struggling to reopen indoors.

“I don’t know if the demand for indoor dining is very high. A lot of places have a young clientele, many of them wouldn’t be vaccinated so they couldn’t really eat inside.”

McNerney decided to wait and see how other companies deal with the new protocols and vaccine controls before diving in.

“We see how other operators are coping and then learn from them what the logistical challenges are.”

Despite the gradual reopening of the economy, many companies in Ireland are still threatened with rising numbers of Covid cases. The number of cases has risen steadily in the last few weeks, driven by the delta variant, with average daily numbers over 1,000.

The continued reopening of the hospitality industry has been criticized compared to the staggering spike in cases where Christmas restrictions were eased in late December, ultimately leading to lockdowns well into spring.

One key difference with the Christmas push is that vaccine rollout in Ireland is moving fast after a stuttering start earlier in the year. As of Friday, 3.2 million people had received at least one dose of the vaccine, 2.4 million of whom had received a double dose. The vaccination program has recently been expanded to include those under the age of 18.

Illinois economic system shrinks 4% in 2020 regardless of 4th quarter progress Leisure, hospitality sectors hardest hit

SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois economy contracted 4 percent in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc in many sectors, although there were signs of a recovery towards the end of the year.

These preliminary figures, released last week by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, showed that the leisure, hospitality and hospitality sectors were hit hardest by the pandemic, seeing economic output declined nearly 30 percent for the year.

This was due to the forced closure of bars, restaurants, theaters, amusement parks and most tourist attractions in the early stages of the pandemic, as well as the cancellation of major conventions and business meetings.

“You look at the different industries, many of which have been affected by COVID, but I don’t think any industry has been as hard hit as hotels and tourism,” Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association, said during an interview . “We saw the impact kick in before some people even realized what COVID was because conventions and large-scale meetings were canceled. And unfortunately, the same events that really are the lifeblood of our industry will be some of the last events, which start again. “

According to BEA, real GDP fell in all 50 states and the District of Columbia in 2020. Utah performed best, shrinking 0.1 percent, while Hawaii’s state economy contracted 8 percent. The average contraction rate for the US as a whole was 3.5 percent.

Housing and meal services contributed to the declines in all 50 states and DC, and they were key contributors to the declines in 38 states plus DC

Other industries that suffered in Illinois were transportation and storage, down 14 percent; Non-government services down 12.3 percent; Production down 7.3 percent; Wholesale Down 5 Percent; and retail by 2.3 percent.

The only bright spot in the state’s economy was the agricultural sector, which grew nearly 68 percent year over year. This was largely the result of a bad crop year in 2019, followed by a good one in 2020.

However, if the numbers are broken down on a quarterly basis, the biggest decline in economic output was in the April-June 2nd quarter, when Illinois was under the toughest economic restrictions. The economy began to pick up in the third quarter and grew at an annual rate of 3.5 percent in the fourth quarter.

However, the recovery has not been felt in all sectors and the leisure and hospitality industries continue to suffer.

Jacobson says he doesn’t expect the hotel industry to fully return to pre-pandemic levels by anytime in 2024. The question for his industry is how many hotels could financially survive up to this point in time.

“I mean, you’ve seen some very notable hotel names across the state, with the Palmer House being one of our largest hotels in the state and obviously the most notable one to have been foreclosed,” he said. “But if a hotel this size owned by one of the big real estate investment firms can be foreclosed, imagine how badly the little folks who own most of the hotels in our state are suffering.”

Capitol News Illinois is a not for profit, impartial news service that covers the state government and is distributed to more than 400 newspapers nationwide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

Push to lift $250Ok for Allegheny Co. hospitality, leisure workers

PITTSBURGH – To mark the one year anniversary of the COVID-19 shutdown, a grassroots group launched a fundraiser to raise $ 250,000 for hotel and entertainment employees across Allegheny County.

The online effort would pay off in on-demand grants of up to $ 500 for unemployed and underemployed workers.

The campaign, called Night Life Line, is designed to help many hospitality and entertainment workers who have been struggling to make ends meet since the pandemic began.

The Night Life Line application portal will open on March 31st. The donation portal is now open. For more information on how to apply, sponsor an event, donate, or volunteer, visit www.nightlifeline.org

Kacy McGill, founder of Pittsburgh Restaurant Workers Aid, a volunteer-led group that supports struggling restaurant workers, said the need remains great.

“Since our launch almost a year ago, we’ve received thousands of requests from restaurant workers who need help paying their rent, securing diapers for their kids, or finding groceries for the week,” she said. “Many have no access to their unemployment payments. We still get inquiries every day. “

Night Life Line is a project of the Giving Back Fund, an IRS-approved 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization.

In order to generate initial gifts, Pittsburgh Restaurant Workers Aid (PRWA) is committed to a matching fund of USD 10,000 from March 15th to 19th.

PRWA works with the Pittsburgh Chapter of the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), the Restaurant Opportunities Center of Pennsylvania (ROC PA), the Pittsburgh Chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild (USBG), the Giving Back Fund, and the State Rep. Sara Innamorato, D-21. Night Life Line’s founding members and ambassadors include Rusted Root member, founder of the Smalls Theater, Liz Berlin, Pittsburgh rocker Byron Nash and Adam Valen of Drusky Entertainment.

A press release said the initiative said that while vaccines bring hope, there is no timeline for the venues to return to full capacity.

According to the group, 17% of all U.S. restaurants closed permanently in 2020, and Pittsburgh’s restaurant industry lost 31,000 jobs in 2020.