A MOBILE COFFEE truck based in Limerick has allegedly been threatened with legal action after offering free hot drinks to local hospital workers.
They called the initiative 'hug-in-a-mug' and it was designed to raise the spirits of frontline healthcare workers battling Covid-19.
The business owners received a letter earlier this month from the Council that intended to bring a prosecution against them for an alleged breach of the Casual Trading Act 1995, while operating on the grounds of University Hospital Limerick (UHL) and the University Maternity Hospital Limerick.
Operations manager Andrew Moloney said he contacted the Council to explain the truck had not traded on these days as they had not charged for the drinks and food, but that the Council informed him it had evidence that this wasn't the case.
Eventually, the Council backed down, admitting that the coffee van wasn't in breach of the Casual Trading Act, but Mr Moloney says that this proves that there's far too much red tape for small businesses and that more needs to be done to help them survive the pandemic.
"We were providing a free 'hug-in-a-mug' to the frontline workers. We said to ourselves we have a truck and because a lot of them can't come to us, we decided to go to them", explained Moloney.
"We weren't trading, and we can prove it, just ask the 600 hospital staff we served in UHL and the 300 staff we served in St John's and the Maternity – they will all advocate that we did not charge a red cent for anything, so, we weren't trading – yet our Council took it upon themselves to issue us with legal proceedings, in these times, which they appear to have backed down from."
Mr Moloney is now calling for greater engagement between the Council to find a way of allowing mobile businesses operate during the pandemic.