The government has announced that hospitality venues are required to close at 8pm.
Responding to the announcement of the new restrictions, the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) said in a statement published on its website, "Hospitality Sector Devastated and Fearful for Future with announcement of further restrictions
"60% of hospitality staff will be laid off Christmas week following Government announcement
"Christmas Restrictions mean a long cold winter for Hospitality - Financial Supports Vital for Survival
"The Hospitality Sector has reacted with shock and devastation this evening following Government's announcement of further restrictions on trading hours. Speaking following the announcement CEO of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, Adrian Cummins said, 'This has been a devastating blow for hospitality businesses and employees this evening. The majority of hospitality businesses rely on income from the Christmas period to see them through the quieter first two months of the year. The loss of income over Christmas is about more than just the festive season, it is about surviving the winter months. It is imperative that financial supports are put in place immediately to offset the impact this will have for businesses and their employees and enable them to survive. As a sector and as a country we need better engagement on what the plan for living with this disease will be going forward. The current last minute reactionary approach is not working, we stand as always, ready able and willing to engage with Government on a plan for the survival and reopening of hospitality.'
"Asks of the Hospitality Sector following this evening's announcement of further restrictions:
- "Announcement of restricted trading hours from Monday 20th December must coincide with giving hospitality businesses access to Covid Restriction Support Scheme CRSS
- "Deadline for businesses to sign up to Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme must be extended beyond 31st December 2021
- "Government must commit to review new restrictions announced today by 9th January as with previous restrictions announced in December
- "Government must commit to ongoing consideration by NPHET of the some metrics so that staff and businesses are aware of what these restrictions have been put in place to achieve
- "% of boosters administered to population
- "WHO or ECDC data on transmissibility of Omicron
- "any new info from vaccine providers on efficacy of 2nd and 3rd doses against new variant
- "Government must give hospitality businesses access to a new Business Resumption Support Scheme (BRSS) or Restart Grant of 3 weeks when restrictions eased".
In a statement published on its website, the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) said, "The Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) has said that the decision by the Government to implement an 8pm curfew for pubs and restaurants is 'closure in camouflage'. They say most pubs will now be unable to viably operate in that timeframe and will now have to close anyway, putting tens of thousands of people out of work from next week.
"They also questioned how the arbitrary closing times of 5pm or 8pm were decided upon by NPHET and the Government, with no scientific explanation currently having been provided.
"Speaking in reaction to these developments, Donall O'Keeffe, Chief Executive of the LVA, said, 'Obviously we are very disappointed about this decision as it clearly amounts to closure in camouflage. Most of our members will now take the decision to shut their doors as they simply won't be able to afford operating in these conditions.
"'Many pubs have been expressing the view that they would rather be asked to close than have to accept an arbitrary curfew of 5pm or 8pm.
"'Obviously though that would then represent an official lockdown of our sector and for some reason neither NPHET nor the Government are willing to be upfront about what this means. Instead they get a bargain basement lockdown, where it's the employees, the pubs, the restaurants and all their various suppliers that will really pay the price. We need immediate and comprehensive supports to now be put in place.
"'We also seem to be heading towards ongoing, rolling closures of hospitality for as long as the pandemic persists. If that’s going to be the case then the Government should be upfront and tell it straight to the industry.
"'If that's not what they want then a plan of practical measures such as ventilation standards that will allow our industry to function while COVID-19 and its many variants are still an active part of our lives has to be developed. We can't stay closed indefinitely, yet that increasingly seems to be the Government's approach to our sector. We need a realistic long term plan,' Mr. O'Keeffe concluded."
In a statement published on its website, the Vintners' Federation of Ireland (VFI) said, "The Government decision to introduce a restricted closing time of 8pm for the hospitality sector until the end of January is the final gut punch for a sector that has faced an unprecedented pummelling since the pandemic started 20 months ago. According to the Vintners' Federation of Ireland (VFI), the 8pm closing time makes little sense and will lead to pubs closing their doors for the duration of restrictions.
"The VFI also says that unless Government reintroduces the CRSS for its members, who now face severe restrictions in what should have been the busiest weeks of the year, many businesses will go to the wall.
"Padraig Cribben, VFI Chief Executive, says, 'I guess the government thinks we should feel grateful for the 8pm closing given NPHET's demand for a 5pm curfew. The reality is this decision will decimate the trade that was already on its knees. Christmas was the one chance we had to recoup some of the losses amassed earlier in the year but we're now in a situation where staff will lose their jobs and pubs will shut one week before Christmas as they see little point in opening under these conditions.
"'While Government may see 8pm as a compromise the reality is that many pubs don’t open until 5pm so three hours trading is unworkable for them. Even for pubs that open earlier the majority of their trade takes place at night time.
"'Given the relentless public health message over the past number of weeks to avoid socialising the public had already cancelled bookings in record numbers. There was no need to further restrict trading hours as our customers are safer in regulated pubs that adhere to guidelines instead of house parties and shebeens.
"'Our members are left wondering what the plan is for hospitality. These restrictions are meant to be lifted at the end of January but there is literally no guarantee this will happen. Publicans and their staff are trapped by the Government's inability to plan a pathway out of the crisis that doesn’t involve lockdowns.
"'Government now has to announce a return of the CRSS for our members who have been pummelled by this news. It’s difficult to overstate the feeling in the trade, publicans and their staff are at the absolute limits of their endurance.
"'We need to see comprehensive supports this weekend, it’s the least the trade expects,' concludes Mr Cribben."
The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) stated, "The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) has described the additional COVID-19 restrictions announced this evening by the Government as a massive blow for hotels and guesthouses, saying they will have a devastating impact on hospitality businesses throughout the country. IHF President Elaina Fitzgerald Kane urged the Government to urgently intervene with immediate additional business and employment supports to sustain businesses into the New Year.
"Ms Fitzgerald Kane stated, 'Public health is our number one priority, and we acknowledge the difficult balance that the Government has to achieve. Yet again however, the hospitality sector is bearing the brunt of these restrictions, resulting in enormous uncertainty and anxiety. This is soul destroying for businesses and for our teams and the many communities across the country that rely so heavily on tourism.
'The financial hit to hotels and guesthouse has been truly stark in recent weeks, and today’s announcement is another severe blow. It is doing untold damage to businesses at a time when they are already struggling, with events cancelled and occupancy levels at near all-time lows. These restrictions must now be matched with meaningful business and employment supports, which are a lifeline to our sector.'
"Ms Fitzgerald Kane called for immediate clarity in relation to additional supports including the re-introduction of enhanced CRSS business support payments. A mechanism is also required to allow businesses to re-enter the EWSS employment supports scheme if 30% down on turnover in any given month for the duration of the scheme.
"'The Government strategy of supporting sectors most affected has worked so far. We are urging them to stay the course with tourism and hospitality businesses and their teams. Normally December trade sustains the very challenging off-peak months at the start of the new year, but this has been wiped out this year. This is about helping our tourism and hospitality industry to sustain and restore the 270,000 livelihoods across the country that it supported before the pandemic, equating to 1 in 10 of all Irish jobs, with 70% of these jobs located outside of Dublin. These jobs matter - not only to the people working within the industry but to the wider economy, especially the many parts of regional Ireland where tourism is the only show in town.'"
© 2021 Hospitality Ireland – your source for the latest industry news. Article by Dave Simpson. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.