Ramore restaurant row: New guidelines advise eateries to let frontline health staff in

A business body representing pubs and eateries across the Province has re-vamped its Covid-19 guidance after an ambulance worker complained of being turned away from a renowned restaurant.
The Ramore complex in PortrushThe Ramore complex in Portrush
The Ramore complex in Portrush

The Nolan Show this morning led on an item about a lady named Eileen Dodds who said she and a partner had visited the Ramore restaurant complex in Portrush, but was asked to leave after filling in a form to say she had contact with infected people.

The Nolan Show said that it had tried to reach the Ramore with no success; the News Letter has tried via phone, Twitter and Facebook, with no result as yet.

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Ms Dodds said she works as a technician for the Ambulance Service, and that it was the “first wee break away” which she had gone on since the pandemic began.

Colin NeillColin Neill
Colin Neill

She said the situation played out like this.

“We asked was there any tables. And they said yes, so basically they escorted us inside. We went upstairs, sat down at the table... and there was a form sitting that we had to fill in.”

It asked for her, name, number, if she had displayed certain symptoms, “and have you rcently been in contact with anyone suspected or having been diagnosed with having Covid 19”.

Whilst she had no symptoms, she answered Yes to this last question.

A generic image of a hospital worker in PPE during the pandemicA generic image of a hospital worker in PPE during the pandemic
A generic image of a hospital worker in PPE during the pandemic
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“I ticked yes because basically where I work I’d be incontact with patients with illnesses, infections, suspected Covid, etc. The girl that was serving us, she said she’d need to speak to the manager.”

The manager then asked to speak to them in private, and “the long and short of it was that he said that we wouldn’t be able to dine there because I’d ticked yes on the form”.

She said “I sort of couldn’t believe it,” adding that it made her feel like “an outcast, worthless”.

Mr Nolan put it to her that the restaurant was trying to mitigate risk.

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“I understand where they’re coming from that they’re trying to minimise risk,” she said. “But ultimately again, the reason for the PPE [which we wear on the job] is to mitigate that risk. See the precautions we take? You’re so so careful.”

Stephen Nolan wondered if it is a sign “frontline health workers are now banned from restaurants” in general.

Colin Neill of Pubs of Ulster says otherwise.

He told the News Letter: “We all are learning. We’ve only had a requirement to take details for this last two weeks. It is regrettable, but I think in this world it’s probably understandable.”

The new advice from Hospitality Ulster today states: “If you decide to include a question asking people if they have been in contact with Covid-19, some people in occupations such as paramedics, nurses and doctors may declare yes.

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“However, it is most likely they will have been wearing PPE and are not a risk...

“We recommend that they are not refused admission unless they declare they should be self-isolating.”

The NI Executive says on self-isolation: “If you live with others and you or one of them have symptoms of coronavirus, then all other household members must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14-day period starts from the day when the first person in the house became ill.”

Repeated attempts were made to reach the Ramore complex, but phone calls went unanswered, as did online communication.

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