Keeping meal records of each person for 28 days not a health measure

04 September 2020
  • The new rule is a penal provision under the regulation.
  • It requires record to be kept of the substantial meal ordered by each member of a group.
  • Serious data protection concerns and regulatory burden for hospitality industry.

Responding to the strict regulation requiring pubs and restaurants to maintain records for 28 days, Labour Justice spokesperson Brendan Howlin questioned the rationale for the new rules which are subject to criminal punishment and require the meal of each person in a premises to be recorded, he questioned the lack of consultation, and flagged the serious concerns now about data protection.

Deputy Howlin said:

“We have had no clear explanation from the government on the rationale for the new meal record rules. It’s clear that keeping this personal data for 28 days is not a health measure, and we still have no public health explanation for why someone needs to eat a meal if they are having a drink in the first place.

“Reading the new regulations, it is clear this new requirement is not a box-ticking exercise and comes with a penal punishment. Why must these detailed records be kept on file for 28 days? The total lack of consultation with the hospitality sector is wrong and will create a huge burden on already stressed businesses.

“The regulations published on Monday but not publicised says the premises must ‘make a record of the substantial meal or meals ordered, pursuant to Regulation 11(2)(a)(iii)(I), by each member of a party of persons and each sole person permitted, or otherwise granted, access to the premises’.

“It then goes on to clearly state in 13(2) (a) that the records must be kept for 28 days, and then in part (4) state this is a penal provision.

“We haven’t been given any clear rationale by the government why a business already under severe strain needs to keep this personal data for 28 days. The Gardaí are already finding the existing regulations difficult to enforce. The government shouldn’t add to that difficulty.

“The Irish Council of Civil Liberties and industry bodies have raised data protection issues, and I would be surprised if the Data Protection Commissioner does not have something to say on this.

“Throughout the week I have been raising serious issues about the law under which these new regulations are given because of the powers it confers on the Minister for Health to create new crimes by regulation. Already over the last 24 hours we’ve seen the impact of that, and the rushed nature of government action, and it’s serious consequences.”

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