CHEF Richard Corrigan has branded the British government’s easing of lockdown restrictions as “a cavalier approach to people's health and safety”.
Meath-born Corrigan, chef and patron of Corrigan's Mayfair, Bentley's Oyster Bar and Grill, Bentley's Sea Grill in Harrods in London, made the claims in an interview with Newstalk’s Down To Business.
The hospitality industry has been particularly hard hit by the pandemic, so despite his misgivings the Irish chef told Newstalk presenter Bobby Kerr that he’d come to the conclusion that countries can’t stay locked down forever.
Corrigan, who recently told the Financial Times that he is an “optimistic lunatic”, said: “You have to take some risks opening up…but it needs to be done in a controlled environment.
“I think Ireland has done really well. I know everyone really feels frustrated… but don’t be jealous of what’s happening in London. I feel we’re all guinea pigs here.”
Corrigan will be implementing his own anti-Covid measures at his restaurants in London, and in his Virginia Park Lodge in Co. Cavan.
These include his staff continuing to wear masks “until further notice”.
He said: “The wellbeing of the people working for me and working together with me is of the utmost importance important.”
On the subject of Brexit, Corrigan told the Newstalk programme that the situation on the ground is a “complete f****** mess”.
He said dealing with the wine supply was particularly difficult.
“You can’t get wine in London. It’s impossible. It’s in port. It’s locked off. It’s in customs.
“The wine companies are running out of stock. It’s a complete mess.
“There’s no drivers to drive the bloody trucks in from Europe.”
Brexit has also led to a shortage of “tens of thousands of hospitality workers”, the chef told Bobby Kerr.
“It’s a complete mess trying to find staff, trying to find chefs, trying to find front-of-house staff,” he added.
In tandem with this, costs have gone up because of duty on imported goods due to Brexit. Corrigan told Bobby Kerr that he estimates both food and wine costs have spiralled by 20 per cent.
Here, the chef's optimism seemed to desert him as he concluded by saying believes that the full negative effects of Brexit have not yet become clear.