Restaurateur Jay Bourke has told of how he was “appalled, very unhappy and embarrassed” at video footage that emerged on social media over the weekend of serious breaches in social distancing guidelines at his premises in Dublin.
Footage emerged over the weekend of an event taking place at Berlin D2 on Dame Lane with no social distancing apparently being enforced.
Critics of the incident include Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly and his predecessor Simon Harris, who called it “a right kick in the gut and middle finger to everyone in our country who has worked so hard and sacrificed so much, to everyone who has lost a loved one or been sick with Covid-19, to every frontline worker and to every responsible business owner who have suffered so much.”
Mr Donnelly described the scenes as “reckless” and “a slap in the face” to people all over the country who had made huge sacrifices.
It was now up to the gardaí if they were going to forward a file to the DPP, he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.
Young people needed to realise that “we’re in the middle of a pandemic here. There’s a lot at stake here.”
When asked if venues that had incidents like this needed to be closed down, Mr Donnelly said yes, that such places needed to be shut down. He pointed out that at the weekend gardaí carried out visits to 3,000 restaurants and found 26 not be compliant.
“The vast majority are doing what is right.” However, he acknowledged that there had been “some fatigue” among the public and the next few weeks were going to be very important, he said.
Mr Bourke said he had been in West Cork when the incident happened on Saturday afternoon but had returned to spend Sunday meeting with the gardaí, his staff at the venue, watching CCTV footage had discussing the event with his security staff.
Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland he said that having viewed hours of footage, the 20-second clip on social media did not give the complete picture.
He said it had been unfortunate that the barman had jumped on the bar, but otherwise the event was “pretty well controlled.”
Mr Bourke said he was not excusing what had happened, “it was just a mad moment.” He was now trying “to pick up the pieces.”
When asked about the images of people dancing, he said that the guidelines do not mention dancing or “jumping around from table to table.”
The barman should not have done what he did, he said.
“He was not doing what he should. He was naughty. He’s young and he got excited. It was a moment of exuberance.
Mr Bourke said he regretted putting on the brunch event as he was now caught up in “a maelstrom” and his staff was receiving death threats. It had been a very professionally run event.
The restaurateur said that he did not think sector representatives should decree the fate of his business on the basis of a 20-second clip and he was “a bit annoyed” by their response.
“I understand Covid, I’ve had it, it’s not fun, I wouldn’t want anyone to get it,” he said.
“I’m extremely unhappy about this, that I’ve been hung out to dry.”
Social media was not judge and jury, he said. Mr Bourke said he was not worried about his licence as he did not think he had broken the law.