The new restrictions announced by the Taoiseach this evening only fosters an environment for house parties unfortunately, according to independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice.

In his most recent address, Micheal Martin told the country that – from Sunday – restaurants and bars must close at 8pm and that no indoor events will be allowed after this time either. An exception has been made for wedding receptions, with a capacity of 100 people.

Commenting on the latest developments, Fitzmaurice said: “Closing pubs and restaurants at 8pm will devastate the hospitality sector. Anyone who is going for a meal would normally only be arriving at that time.

“Unfortunately, all these new restrictions will do is foster an environment for house parties. At least if pubs and restaurants were open until a reasonable time there would be some level of supervision and regulation.

“This will go out the window at house parties. People are extremely frustrated that yet another Christmas will pass under the shadow of Covid restrictions.

“The people of Ireland have done everything that has been asked of them. In excess of 90% of the population is vaccinated and we are among the highest in Europe for people administered with booster shots.

“People have put their shoulder to the wheel and, in the main, adhered to various stages of strict regulations around travel and social contacts.

“But we have to learn to live with this virus. Otherwise, where will this all end. We will continue to yo-yo in and out of varying stages of lockdowns.

“The Taoiseach may seek to paint a brighter picture this time around, but the fact is we are entering another lockdown – no matter how he wants to dress it up with the help of his spin doctors; this is despite the fact almost everyone is vaccinated.

“What happens if another variant is detected? Do we start back at square one again?”

The Roscommon-Galway TD expressed his frustration at the lack of consultation with public representatives on the matter.

Continuing, he added: “If you are not at the inner circle, you do not hear about decisions until they are leaked to the press and into the public domain. Having been elected by the people, you would imagine we would be briefed on the decisions or recommendations. But this is not the case.

“It appears as if NPHET is running the country. It is a black and white scenario to them, with no consideration for the consequences these decisions will have on the wider public.

“If you look at young people at the moment, they have been robbed of almost two years of making memories with their friends. Socialising is a huge part of growing up.

“It is alright for older people who have been there and done that. But some of the young people have yet to experience a nightclub with their friends. Instead they have been cooped up for the guts of two years, with no visible end in sight. This will surely have implications for their mental health and wellbeing.

“The restrictions around the hospitality sector is yet another kick in the teeth. Having struggled to find staff to come back, they now face the prospect of having to let some of them go again.

“The closing time of 8pm will mean that some pubs or restaurants will not even bother opening as it wouldn’t make sense in their area. It is similar to the situation that transpired with nightclubs – closure by stealth.

“We have to learn to live with the virus. The sooner we realise that the better,” Fitzmaurice concluded.

For further information contact Michael Fitzmaurice at 086-1914565

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