USI President Claire Austick discusses the impact on students of recently announced Covid-19 restrictions on the reopening of hospitality on The Tonight Show

Austick also discussed the expected reopening of higher education in September and vaccination rates of young people

Last night, President of the Union of Students’ of Ireland (USI) Claire Austick discussed the effects of recently announced Covid-19 restrictions on students.

Appearing on Virgin Media’s ‘The Tonight Show’, Austick was interviewed by Matt Cooper on the effect of newly announced restrictions on the reopening of hospitality on students working in the sector.

She also discussed the expected reopening of higher education institutions in September, and the rate at which young people are being vaccinated in Ireland.

Austick was asked about the frustration and disappointment that students have expressed following the announcement by Government yesterday that the reopening of indoor hospitality, expected on July 5, will be delayed until at least July 19.

With many students working as hospitality staff not yet having been offered a vaccine, Austick said that USI want to see “[fair] and equal approach to ensure that students are included in the conversation” and “have access to a safe working environment”.

“We cannot be in a situation where young people and students cannot avail of indoor dining but they’re expected to work”, she continued. 

Austick agreed with Cooper’s suggestion that students should receive “accelerated vaccinations”, especially those working in the hospitality industry.

As of June 27, only 12% of young people in Ireland aged between 18 to 24 years old are fully vaccinated, a percentage that is significantly lower than other European Union (EU) countries such as Hungary and Malta, where over 50% of this age bracket are fully vaccinated.


19 of the 27 EU member states have at least 20% of 18-24 year olds partially vaccinated. Meanwhile, in Ireland only 17% of 18-24 year olds have received at least one vaccination.

Cooper asked Austick about the “threat” to the reopening of higher education institutions in September. Yesterday, Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan has stated that he fears the reopening of schooling and higher education will accelerate the rising cases caused by the Delta variant.


Austick said that getting students back on-campus should be “a priority” for government and higher education institutions. She highlighted the framework on A safe return to on-site further and higher education and research”, recently announced by Minister for Further and Higher Education, Innovation and Research Simon Harris as “crucially important”.

“Students want to be back on campus, but they want to be back on campus in a safe manner, to have that holistic student experience by engaging in clubs and societies, volunteering opportunities, and being able to have conversations with their friends in the canteen” she said.

Following the announcement that the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines will become available for people under 40 years old, Cooper asked Austick if the USI anticipates “reluctance or enthusiasm” from young people when vaccine registration opens. Austick believes that students “would be happy to receive a vaccine once the opportunity presents itself”.

“Students want to be vaccinated, they want to be on-campus and be able to participate and engage with people in a meaningful way again”, Austick concluded. 

Bella Salerno

Bella Salerno is currently a Deputy News Editor of Trinity News. She is a Senior Fresh Middle Eastern, Jewish and Islamic Civilisations and French student.