A number of local restaurants are among those being threatened via social media that groups protesting against the requirement to produce vaccination certs before being able to dine indoors when restrictions are lifted on Monday will phone in ‘fake bookings’.

Award winning Chef JP McMahon highlighted the issue when he claimed he has been forced into imposing cancellation fees on would be customers at his restaurants after being targeted by protestors.

Galway based McMahon who owns three establishments,Aniar, Cava Bodega, and Eat Gastropub told The Star, ‘They are being very open about this threat, we have received numerous messages on social media telling us, ‘We are going to make bookings at your restaurants and not turn up, this is not an idle threat we ARE going to do it’, so we felt compelled to act.

‘What we have done is introduce a policy where someone has to leave a credit card number when they book and if they don’t give us 24 hours notice of cancellation we charge a nominal fee to that card.

‘ It is unfortunate” that people are targeting restaurants and pubs for following the law.

‘Basically we are like a referee in this we don’t make the rules but we have to apply them.

‘There are individuals on social media, some who have as many as 10,000 followers, actively encouraging people to make these fake bookings.

‘We have been warned they will do it in small numbers to avoid suspicion, for example,

JP McMahon

four different people booking a table for four or eight bookings for two people wouldn’t raise a red flag.

‘In Cava, my main restaurant we could seat maybe 45 people with the required social distancing so if we have 16 fake bookings that is over a third of the place that will be empty.

‘I know other restaurants have received similar threats and I can’t understand why if they have a problem with the new law then take it up with the people who passed it not those of us tasked with enforcing it.’