Cork hoteliers call on government for clarity on reopening as 'no direction' given to hospitality sector

Cork hoteliers call on government for clarity on reopening as 'no direction' given to hospitality sector
Proprietor Michael Magner, closing the Vienna Woods Hotel in Glanmire, Cork, until further notice. Picture: David Keane.

Cork hoteliers are calling on the Government for direction on the guidelines that will be put in place ahead of the reopening of hotels in phase four of the Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business to ease Covid-19 restrictions.

It comes after Minister for Health Simon Harris said that “very small weddings” of close family and friends could potentially take place in July.

Owner of Vienna Woods Hotel, Michael Magner, said that the Minister’s comments are “no different to what was published in the roadmap plan” published on May1 and that three weeks later, the hospitality industry “still has no direction”.

“What the plan clearly said was that on July 20 hotels can reopen without their public bars, and that we would be in a position to host small gatherings but there’s no definition of small gatherings,” Mr Magner said.

Mr Mager is a member of Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) board which is working alongside Fáilte Ireland and with the Government and HSE to prepare a document on the procedures necessary for the industry to move forward.

A submission was made to the Government “10 days ago or so and they haven’t come back”.

He said that one of the issues for hotels going forward is two metre social distancing measures which would cut Vienna Woods’ ballroom capacity of 400 down to “under 100 guests”.

Fergal Harte, General Manager of The Kingsley and Chair of the IHF Cork branch.
Fergal Harte, General Manager of The Kingsley and Chair of the IHF Cork branch.

He said that he is concerned also for the 36,000 people in Ireland and their families and friends who are left with no answers surrounding their wedding day.

“There are about 22,000 weddings in Ireland each year and the majority of weddings take place in the summer. Since the lockdown, there were about 18,000 weddings potentially on the books in Ireland.” Vienna Woods has 60 weddings on its books between August 31 and December 31.

“We need to make plans, we need to put contingency in place and we must be able to communicate with our couples,” he said.

The Kingsley Hotel.
The Kingsley Hotel.

Chair of the IHF Cork branch and General Manager of The Kingsley Hotel, Fergal Harte, said that “the main priority for hoteliers is the health and safety of guests and employees”.

He confirmed that the IHF is “developing procedures” to ensure a safe environment for its teams and customers when hotels reopen.

“The standards will be detailed and cover all aspects of hotels and facilities and we expect them to be published shortly,” he said.

He said that clarity will allow hotels to move forward in planning and making sure all required procedures are in place ahead of reopening their doors.

The Kingsley Hotel is planning to reopen on July 20 minus the reopening of the bar and health club facilities which will reopen in August.

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