Fáilte Ireland Issues Business Reopening Guidelines; Industry Groups Respond

By Dave Simpson
Fáilte Ireland Issues Business Reopening Guidelines; Industry Groups Respond

Fáilte Ireland has published sector specific operational guidelines for the tourism industry to attempt to ensure the safe reopening of tourism businesses on June 29.

The guidelines provide detailed advice on the necessary systems to be implemented by businesses in order to ensure that they are adhering to public health advice and government protocols, such as physical distancing and the distribution of personal protective equipment.

Fáilte Ireland developed the guidelines in collaboration with the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF), the Irish Self Catering Federation (ISCF), the Irish Caravan and Camping Council, the Association of Visitor Experiences (AVEA), Ireland's Association of Adventure Tourism (IAAT) and B&B Ireland.

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Relevant government departments including the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and the Department of Health, state agencies including the Health Service Executive (HSE), wider government and the Labour Employer Economic Forum (LEEF) were also consulted during the process of drafting the guidelines, which Fáilte Ireland said are in line with the government's Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business and the Return to Work Safely Protocol.

The guidelines are live on Fáilte Ireland's dedicated COVID-19 Business Support Hub on www.failteireland.ie.

Sector specific guidelines are available for:

hotels and guesthouses;
• self-catering businesses;
• caravan and camping businesses;
• visitor attractions;
• activity providers;
• B&Bs and historic houses;
• and restaurants and cafés.

Fáilte Ireland's sector specific operational guidelines will be updated regularly in line with government public health advice as this advice evolves. This will include any further guidance that is given following work by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre and National Public Health Emergency Team on the application of the existing social distancing requirements in specific, defined and controlled environments in the hospitality industry during periods of low incidence of the virus.

Urgently Needed Guidance And Supports

Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly stated, "Throughout this crisis we have been working with tourism and hospitality businesses to give them the guidance and supports they urgently need. The next phase of our response is recovery, reopening and rebuilding the tourism industry and renewing its vital contribution to job creation and regional development.

"This is the greatest crisis our industry has ever faced, and the reality is that many tourism businesses will not be in a position to reopen. The purpose of the operational guidelines we have developed in collaboration with industry groups is to try to help those businesses that can reopen their doors to do so safely. I would like to thank the industry groups, individual businesses, worker representation groups, relevant state agencies, government departments and all those involved in the development of these guidelines. We will continue to focus all of our resources on providing critical operational and business supports to ensure the reopening of as many tourism businesses as possible and to safeguard the viability of our tourism industry."

IHF Response

Welcoming the new guidelines, IHF president Elaina Fitzgerald Kane said, "The health and safety of our teams and guests will always be the main priority. While they have been closed for business since March, hotels and guesthouses across the country have already started to adapt their services and facilities in anticipation of reopening under COVID-19 guidelines. The publication of these standards today gives them further clarity on what is required. Ireland's hotels have always had a well-earned reputation globally for their high service standards and hoteliers will be applying that same commitment to the implementation of these new standards.

"Hotels are well-advanced in their preparations and will be ready to reopen from the earlier date of 29th June, which was announced by An Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, last Friday [June 5]. We are seeing great examples of creativity, innovation and flexibility in terms of how hotels are using their property's spaces as well as rethinking services, dining and leisure offerings. Lockdown has been hard on so many, and hotels want to help people put it behind them with a relaxing and enjoyable holiday in a safe environment."

Guidelines for hotels include the maintaining of two metre social/physical distancing between people; the use of electronic check-in and queuing protocols where possible; the provision of table service and additional room service in place of breakfast buffets; and the implementation of enhanced room cleaning protocols.

RAI Response And Restaurant & Café Guidelines

The Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) has also welcomed the guidelines, but insists that the two metre social distancing is problematic for restaurants and cafés.

RAI CEO Adrian Cummins stated, "We would like to thank Fáilte Ireland for all their hard work in putting together these essential guidelines for businesses reopening on June 29.

"We all have a duty of care to both employees and members of the public to ensure their safety and well-being while on a premise. By reading and following these guidelines, we hope for a swift reopening of many establishments and aim to see 120,000 employees back to work.

"However, it's not all good news. We are asking the government to reduce the mandatory social distance from two metres to one metre. The World Health Organization (WHO) states one metre is a safe social distance. To enforce a two metre distance could prove detrimental to many small businesses who will struggle to survive the reduced customer capacity. We have fought hard on this issue and expect the required social distance to be changed to one metre by 29th June.

"Comprehensive hygiene controls have always been part of café and restaurant standard operating procedures, with Ireland having some of the highest standards of food safety in Europe. Businesses will continue to enhance and implement such hygiene practices to ensure customer safety as they reopen.

"The Restaurants Association of Ireland is seeking clarification regarding tapas and sharing plates for customers, taking orders from customers at two metres, and inclusion of screens between customer tables.

"The hospitality and tourism industry has been hit hard during this crisis, but public safety has been our main concern throughout this pandemic. We continue to lobby the government for an aid package. With reopening imminent, a sector specific aid package is needed now. We require a 0% vat rate, a commercial rates write off and grants for businesses in adherence to the RAI nine-point recovery plan."

© 2020 Hospitality Ireland – your source for the latest industry news. Article by Dave Simpson. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.

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