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Hospitality Sector Restrictions To Be Lifted From January 22

By Dave Simpson

It has been announced that hospitality sector restrictions in Ireland will be lifted from tomorrow (Saturday January 22).

Details

A statement published on gov.ie said that from 6am on January 22, the following COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions will be lifted:

  • household visiting guidance;
  • early closing time for hospitality venues and events;
  • capacity restrictions for outdoor and indoor events;
  • sectoral protective measures;
  • nightclub restrictions;
  • and the requirement to have a valid Digital COVID Certificate to enter various premises.

Additionally, a return to physical attendance in workplaces will be permitted to start on a phased basis appropriate to each sector from Monday January 24.

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However, the following public health measures will remain in place until at least February 28:

  • the requirement to wear masks in all settings in which masks are currently required;
  • and protective measures in schools and early learning and care facilities.

Also, individuals who have COVID-19, have symptoms of COVID-19 or are close contacts of individuals who have COVID-19 must continue to follow the current advice for individuals who have the virus, symptoms or are close contacts.

RAI CEO Statement

In a statement reacting to the above news published on the website of the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI), RAI CEO Adrian Cummins said that "businesses are breathing a sigh of relief after two years of lockdowns and restricted trading and are excited to trade once again,", and added, "Staff and customer safety will continue to be paramount for the sector. The Association also welcomes comments by government that current supports will have no cliff edge. Hospitality businesses welcome the reopening of their doors without restrictions but know that it will take some time to trade out of this and small hospitality businesses country wide have built up debt over the past two years - supports will be vital."

LVA Chief Executive Statement

In a statement reacting to the above news published on the website of the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA), LVA chief executive Donall O'Keeffe said, "This is a monumental day for all of hospitality. Overall the feelings of joy, relief and excitement are permeating throughout the sector. We are delighted this has all happened so quickly, the speed with which things have progressed this week has been amazing. Some in the sector were worried this day may never come."

O'Keeffe added, "We have not had anywhere near normal trading for more than 22 months now and businesses throughout the hospitality sector will need a little more assistance to get them back on their feet.

"We would like to see the government maintain the supports they have been providing for the coming months. We are also seeking the waiving of the upfront Special Exemption Order fees required for late night venues during their initial period of reopening.

"For now we are just excited to see hospitality return and start getting back to normality."

VFI Chief Executive Statement

In a statement reacting to the above news published on the website of the Vintners' Federation of Ireland (VFI), VFI chief executive Padraig Cribben said, "Overnight, we are saying goodbye to vaccine passes, mandatory table service, contact details, six per table, sitting at all times, one-metre social distancing, no pool or darts and the ban on using bar counters. It really is remarkable to see it all coming to an end.

Cribben added, "The trade must also be given time to get back on its feet, so maintaining the EWSS at the current rate for another couple of months is vital. Our members have taken a hammering over the past two years, so it is reasonable to maintain supports during the initial reopening phase."

IHF Chief Executive Statement

Meanwhile, Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) chief executive Tim Fenn stated, "The removal of restrictions is truly fantastic news for hotel and guesthouse owners and their teams. They have endured a turbulent, uncertain and, at times, deeply stressful period as indeed have their families and the many communities for whom tourism is the only show in town. It's very welcome news too for the many businesses up and down the country that supply our sector, many of them small employers who also rely heavily on tourism and hospitality. Meanwhile guests, including couples and families, can finally plan holidays, weddings and gatherings with much-needed confidence, certainty, and anticipation of a very warm welcome.

"However, while today is undoubtedly a good news day, tourism is not a tap that can be turned on and off at will. Hotels and guesthouses, and the wider tourism and hospitality industry face a very challenging few months ahead with a lot of uncertainty. The government strategy of supporting the sectors most affected has worked so far, and we are very grateful for the solidarity it has shown to our industry. We urge the government now to stay the course and continue with its supports until business levels stabilise.

"Our priority is the restoration as quickly as possible of the livelihoods of 270,000 people who worked in the tourism and hospitality industry prior to this pandemic. These jobs represent 11% of total employment nationally and, with 70% located outside of Dublin, the regional contribution of tourism is vital to communities throughout the country.

"While hotels and guesthouses are optimistic for later in the year, business and employment supports are vital in the interim, enabling them to protect employment and position themselves for recovery. The government's retention of the EWSS scheme for hospitality businesses is very welcome. It is critical that the enhanced levels are retained until the end February with the sliding scale until the end of May. Other supports such as a waiver on local authority rates will also be required until businesses get back on their feet."

Fenn added, "Today is hopefully the turning point in the reopening of society and the economy. The government has gone the distance throughout this very trying pandemic in terms of supporting livelihoods and businesses to enable recovery. Continuing that support now until business levels stabilise will underpin this great work and have a direct impact on the 270,000 livelihoods we are trying to restore across our tourism and hospitality community."

Fáilte Ireland CEO Statement

Additionally, in a statement published on the website of Fáilte Ireland reacting to the above news, Fáilte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly said, "The easing of restrictions announced by the government this evening is a hugely positive step forward and provides much needed hope that in 2022 we will see the beginning of the recovery for our tourism sector. Our priority at Fáilte Ireland throughout this pandemic has been on supporting the survival of tourism businesses and driving the recovery of the sector. Our focus remains steadfast and we have extensive work plans this year to help rebuild tourism and deliver a strong recovery in partnership with the tourism industry and government."

© 2022 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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Enjoy full access to Hospitality Ireland, our weekly email news digest, all website and app content, and every digital issue.
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Enjoy full access to Hospitality Ireland, our weekly email news digest, all website and app content, and every digital issue.
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