ONE of the city’s best-known restaurateurs says it will not be financially viable to reopen her business unless the Government’s temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme is kept in place until year end.
Claire Nash, who runs Nash 19 restaurant, said businesses need clarity on how long the Wage Subsidy Scheme will continue, adding that if the scheme were only extended until the end of July “it would not be viable” for her to reopen.
Ms Nash highlighted how restaurants face a number of significant costs before they reopen, including legacy debts and re-stocking everything from flour to beverages.
“We have zero stock. If you have some, it might be out of date,” Ms Nash said.
“If it [the Wage Subsidy Scheme] was going to last for two weeks, why would you open it to add to costs?” she said, adding “you’d lose more money than staying closed.”
Despite the challenges, Ms Nash intends to reopen in mid-June, but said “it’s like sailing off the edge with no lifejacket.”
The Cork business owner is hoping the Wage Subsidy Scheme would be extended until at least the end of the year, and said she would be re-examining her business model in January to see how they can work going forward.
She stressed that businesses also needed more clarity around health and safety policy regarding Covid-19 rather than just guidelines.
Another issue of concern for business is around bringing staff back to work, and Ms Nash said she had staff members in different circumstances, including members who may have childcare issues.
She also acknowledged that the current pandemic payment could impact businesses bringing back part-time staff, who may be receiving more money through the payment then you would have been while working on a part-time basis.
This was echoed by Lawrence Owens, chief executive of the Cork Business Association who said that people should not be incentivised to not go to work.
“We have to accept that this was brought in at lightning speed, and I think they are trying to resolve this,” he said.
Earlier yesterday, Taoiseach Leo Vardkar warned that anyone who turns down a return to work would lose their eligibility for the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment.