The expected reopening of indoor hospitality for vaccinated persons or those who have recovered from Covid should pave the way for the reopening of other indoor recreational venues in the next phase of easing of restrictions, two Fine Gael Oireachtas members have said. The legislation, which will come before both houses of the Oireachtas, is expected to apply to indoor hospitality and dining.
Deputy Emer Higgins and Senator John Cummins said while this is hugely welcome as it will give pubs and restaurants the opportunity to serve patrons inside again, the same principle should apply to other indoor venues, such as bingo and community halls.
Senator Cummins said, “While the proposed legislation is not without its flaws in that it will not facilitate indoor hospitality for unvaccinated people, at least initially, there is no reason in my mind why the legislation could not be extended to other indoor activities later in the summer. “I’ve been in contact with organisations such as the Bingo Association of Ireland; they represent a sector which employs in excess of 200 people and caters for upwards of 10,000 patrons weekly, and they now urgently require clarity on what reopening will look like for bingo halls across the country.”
Deputy Higgins said, “Many older people have cocooned for months on end and for those living alone it’s been a particularly lonely time.
“At this point, most of our over 60s have been fully vaccinated and are keen to get back to the ‘new normal’. In recognition of the incredible sacrifices they have made over the past year and a half, the reopening of indoor community and recreational venues should be prioritised in the next phase of easing of restrictions. “Socialising in bingo halls, men’s sheds, ladies’ groups as well as through card games like bridge is a huge part of normality for many older people. These are all controlled settings where pods and social distancing can be easily maintained.”
Deputy Higgins and Senator Cummins concluded, “For our mental health as much as anything, it’s really important that we open back up our community centres, parish halls and local schools to allow vaccinated people entry into these spaces, so that they can start reconnecting with people and rebuilding their lives as we move out of the pandemic that has gripped the globe for far too long.”