Dr. Maitiu O Tuathail believes that the current one hour and forty-five minutes time limit for the hospitality industry is encouraging more pub crawls around Ireland.
In 2018, Dr O Tuathail became the president of the National Association of General Practioners (NAGP). He stepped down from this role in April of 2019.
During the pandemic, Ó Tuathail has become a well-known figure on radio and television during the current Covid-19 crisis.
Taking to Twitter, the GP from Galway stated his belief that the current restrictions are encouraging pub crawls around Ireland.
"I understand the rationale for the one hour and forty-five minutes time limit for the hospitality industry but as far as I can see all it’s doing is encouraging pub crawls," he said on social media.
As per the government's guidelines, Level 3 restrictions state that: "Restaurants and pubs operating as restaurants (serving a substantial meal) can open for indoor dining with additional restrictions, including a requirement for meals to be prepared on-site, inside the premises, with a maximum of 6 people per table. This includes access for non-residents to restaurants in hotels."
Pubs that only serve alcohol will not be permitted to reopen before Christmas but will be allowed to serve takeaway drinks.
The €9 substantial meal in gastropubs also remains in place.
Restaurants and pubs that serve food are required to ensure that physical distancing of 2-metres should be maintained between tables.
However, if this is not possible, this can be reduced to 1 metre in controlled environments if all of the other risk mitigations requirements outlined have been met and pre-booked time-limited slots are in place, which are a maximum of 1 hour 45 minutes duration.
On the issue of pub crawls and public drinking, in November, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly withdrew a memo for Cabinet seeking to curtail the circumstances in which people can gather to drink alcohol.
The proposals brought to Cabinet would have made it an offence, punishable by an €80 fine, for two or more people to gather outdoors where one of them is drinking alcohol.
However, rather than pursue that option, Gardaí opted to boost patrols on popular street drinking spots in a bid to prevent a repeat of recent images of crowds consuming alcohol outdoors in Dublin and Cork.