Hoteliers in Cork have voiced concerns over the impacts of the latest guidance around functions and weddings, with one hotelier describing how the new recommendations have meant that they have had to tell grieving families they can not currently facilitate funeral lunches.
The latest new guidance means that any gatherings at hotels are limited to six people, with the exception of weddings.
Aaron Mansworth, Managing Director of Trigon Hotels said this means that their three hotels; the Cork International Hotel, the Metropole Hotel and the Cork Airport Hotel, can no longer facilitate events organised to mark many family occasions.
“Up until last week, the number for indoor functions was 50,” he said adding, ”there is nothing above six now.”
Mr Mansworth said families trying to plan confirmations and communions are finding it difficult.
“People are looking at weddings then and saying why can't we have something,” he explained.
The Trigon Hotels MD said the situation around funerals was particularly emotive.
“It’s so hard. We’ve had to, unfortunately, turn down a number of funeral requests. Certain functions can cancel and rebook at a later date, but you can't do that with a funeral,” he said.
While Mr Mansworth acknowledged that everyone is trying to do the right thing for health reasons.
However, he questioned whether the guidance around functions could actually lead to an increase in gatherings in homes.
“Unfortunately while we are cancelling certain get-togethers that can be socially distanced, a lot of them are still going on.
“Functions that are booked for 30 or 40 people, we can't take them now, is that going to lead to further house gatherings?”
Michael Magner, proprietor at Cork's Vienna Woods Hotel and a board member of the Irish Hotels Federation said he too was finding it difficult to tell people functions cannot currently go ahead.
“We want to welcome people who had other events booked with us, but when we had to ring them and tell them that because of the new guidelines now we are not in a position to host their gathering, event, confirmation, communion if it exceeds six, that’s breaking bad news. People have been very tolerant and compliant but people are tired as well,” he said.
The latest guidance also has implications for weddings and means all wedding guests must wear face coverings when arriving to and leaving their table at a wedding and must leave the function and bar areas before 11.30pm.
The number of permitted guests, staff members and entertainers allowed in the room remains at 50.
Michael Magner said he believes the guidance is “very restrictive.”
“A bride or groom, or any couple, they put time and effort into planning their wedding day. It’s the most important day at this time in their life. That’s being snapped away.
“Every couple we have been dealing with is really understanding. Naturally, they are disappointed. Naturally, there is anxiety. Naturally, they want their wedding the way they wanted it and they are entitled to it. But we are working with them. Many are postponing to dates into 2021 and some now into dates in 2022. Other couples are still going to proceed,” he said.
Mr Magner said he believed there is a need for more certainty around what guidance might be issued for weddings going forward, and that he believed if the Government were to tell people that certain restrictions would apply for the next six months, it would actually give couples more time to prepare and plan and work around it.
“When you are dealing with a piecemeal situation, and I appreciate that the Government is in a difficult position, it creates desperate uncertainty and anxiety,” he said.
The hotelier said the guidance was also making it very difficult for businesses to operate.
“We appreciate that Government, through the advice of NPHET, are obviously doing their best to eradicate or reduce the number of Covid cases, but unfortunately the guidelines make it very, very difficult for businesses to continue, and albeit with Government support, the Government support won't be enough to help businesses survive this,” he said.
The hotelier said that while businesses and people were suffering that in the wider context, they are paying a small price.
“If you put it into the context of the wider issue that there is a virus out there. It is a disease that is killing people and those folks that have lost family members or people who have lost their lives, when you compare it to that, it is a small price to pay.”