RAI Says Fears About Diners Claiming To Have Contracted COVID-19 At Restaurants Cast Doubt On Proposed Reopening Date
The Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) believes that most Irish restaurants are unlikely to reopen on June 29 partly due to fears about having legal action taken against them by diners claiming to have contracted COVID-19 on their premises.
The RAI's statement followed a reported spikes in calls from members saying that they are worried that their insurance will not protect them from potential claims that customers contracted the virus while dining at their venues.
RAI CEO Adrian Cummins has called on the government to provide new legal safeguards before restaurants reopen to ensure "that people can't seek to profit from [restaurants'] vulnerability."
The Irish Independent quotes Cummins as saying, "Government needs to state clearly that COVID-19 cannot be claimed for".
Cummins also said that the majority of restaurants owners were already sceptical about the proposed June 29 reopening date due to inadequate room to serve enough diners under the required social distancing rules, and that insurance concerns have heightened doubts that restaurants can resume profitable trade at the end of next month.
Cummins stated, "Policies could well exclude COVID-19 from coverage. That would leave our members facing an unacceptable liability. We would have no faith in the insurance industry to look after our needs."
Insurance Ireland Response
In response, Insurance Ireland said that any COVID-19-related claims by restaurant customers could be handled the same way as any public liability issue.
The Irish Independent quotes Insurance Ireland as saying, "There is nothing in insurance policies to prevent businesses from reopening once they follow the government's health advice.
"It would have to be established the particular business caused the claimant to contract COVID-19. Secondly, the claimant would have to establish they contracted COVID-19 as a result of the specific negligence of the business owner."
Insurance Ireland added if a claimant did not observe COVID-19 safeguards while eating, "it would be difficult to argue the business owner would have a liability for the actions of the customer".
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