Industry members said a stalled reopening of the hospitality sector due to concerns about the delta variable would have a “catastrophic” impact.
Adrian Cummins of the Restaurant Association of Ireland explained that an 11-hour government announcement would damage restaurants and bars financially.
Padraig Crippen of Ireland’s Ventures Association said Health Minister Stephen Donnelly’s comments that there was a risk of widening restrictions had caused “serious concern” in the sector.
Donnelly said this morning that it was “too early to say” whether the reopening of the community, scheduled for July 5, would be delayed by a few weeks due to the delta variant of Covid-19.
The delta variant now accounts for 20% of all last week’s case numbers.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar also said today that ROnly the government can make a decision with the latest data.
The variant now accounts for 20% of all last week’s case numbers.
NPHET is due to advise the government next Thursday on the epidemiological situation in Ireland, before the next phase of reopening on Monday, July 5.
Variables of concern must also be taken into account, Varadkar said, noting that the “dark cloud” is the delta variable.
Varadkar said the government is looking at the data in the UK, which is much more advanced in reopening than Ireland, and has a higher rate of variable delta.
He added that it was worrying that there had been a 30%-40% increase in cases and hospitalizations there over the past week, but he also emphasized that this was “from a very low base”.
Cummins called for an urgent meeting with the government to clarify the situation.
“Any delay in reopening indoor hospitality on July 5 will have a disastrous economic impact on restaurants, cafes and bars specifically those in tourist areas.
“Indoor hospitality is currently open in Irish hotels and throughout the Northern Ireland hospitality industry.
“Companies are currently in the planning stage with regards to restocking, preparing listings and preparing to reopen on July 5th – at the last minute, the late deferral will have a financial impact on the terms of stock loss.
“We are seeking to hold an urgent meeting with the government to clarify the situation,” he said.
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Crippen said July 5 will mean a return to work for more than 25,000 employees and an opportunity for bars to trade during the busy summer season.
He explained that the eight weeks until the end of August is a vital period for publicans because it remains the only realistic chance to salvage something from 2021 and roll it into next year.
“Comments from government ministers that the reopening on July 5 may be delayed is causing great alarm and concern in the hospitality sector. With only two weeks left, it is unacceptable to treat our members in this way,” Crepin said.
“There are only eight weeks into the summer season for bars to recoup some of the massive losses accumulated over the past 15 months, so telling publicists they could lose any of those weeks would ruin the trade.
“Businesses set up in July and August will support most bars through the winter and into next year, so a government delay in reopening during the summer will affect the sector much more than a delay in, say, January.
“The publicans are busy resetting staff and ordering inventory, so this new uncertainty is putting them in an impossible position. They need immediate confirmation that the reopening on July 5th will go ahead as planned.
“The fact that the government will not make a final decision until Friday 2 July – just three days before reopening – shows how disconnected ministers are from the realities of running business. The psychological stress this uncertainty is causing our members cannot be overstated.”
Crippen said Ireland was “lagging behind” in Britain and Europe, and added that it was now important for July 5 to go ahead as planned.