Senators and TDs, many from Coalition parties, have spoken out against the proposal for a 5pm hospitality closing time.
The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) has made the recommendation to Government at it will be discussed at Cabinet before an expected address from Taoiseach Micheál Martin this evening.
Businesses and the public have been widely critical of the proposal, and they have been joined by numerous Senators and TDs.
Seanad Leader Regina Doherty tweeted: "If Nphet are really saying that 2 double vaccinated and boosted people can’t have a pizza and a pint after 5pm then I give up."
If NPHET are really saying that 2 double vaccinated and boosted people can’t have a pizza and a pint after 5pm then I give up
— Regina Doherty (@ReginaDo) December 17, 2021
However, speaking to Beat News, Fianna Fáil Senator for Wexford, Malcolm Byrne, believes restrictions on closing times will only make things worse:
"My concern is that if you move to a situation whereby your talk about a 5 pm closing for pubs and restaurants which are safe controlled environments, you end up with a load of house parties.
"Rather than people going into a pub where their COVID certs are checked at the door, and it's a regulated environment, you'll just have people going to house parties instead."
Former Minister Michael Ring has called on the Taoiseach and Tánaiste to reject the advise submitted to the Government leaders late last night.
Fine Gael TD Brendan Griffin called the recommendation "an insult to our businesses people and workers in hospitality" and said it "has been floated and has caused enormous worry and stress to so many people".
Senator Malcolm Byrne said he is "totally opposed" to the Nphet proposal for a 5pm closing time. "It will simply lead to an increase in house parties," he added.
I am totally opposed to the #NPHET proposal for a 5pm closing time. It will simply lead to an increase in house parties.
— Malcolm Byrne (@malcolmbyrne) December 17, 2021
Fianna Fáil TD Barry Cowen tweeted: "Obviously am [sic] not privy to specific details of nphet recommendations but surely a 9 or 10pm curfew with weekly review of figures. Ramp up boosters with updated Covid certs for entrance to all indoor events. People open to compromise not confrontation in interest of public health."
Leading a group of Fianna Fáil Senators outside Leinster House, Senator Lisa Chambers said: "I know it's in the minds of the Taoiseach and all of our colleagues in Government how difficult a period this is for hospitality, for businesses and for citizens. They're very conscious that it's, but we still felt it was important to make our voices heard and our views known on the issue. It is the view of our group that the proposed 5pm closing time is a step too far."
She added: "We feel that people are going to socialise in any event over the Christmas period and then go into homes and house parties and not into regulated spaces, with the caveat that we are not public health experts, but it is a safer environment in a pub or restaurant where Covid certs are being checked, where there's minimal service at tables, where it's table service, and it is a safe and regulated environment with an early closing time already in place."