Businesses working in the hospitality sector in Cork have broadly welcomed the acceleration of the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business, but have expressed some concerns that more needs to be done to support the sector.
The acceleration of the phases of the Roadmap means that hotels, restaurants, hostels, caravan parks, galleries, and museums can also open from June 29, and that it will also be possible for bars that also operate as restaurants to reopen.
Fergal Harte, General Manager of the Kingsley Hotel and Chairperson of the Cork Branch of the Irish Hotels Federation, said he was “absolutely delighted” with the announcement.
“We are really looking forward to being able to re-open and I would see today as really good news,” he said.
The IHF Cork Chair said the fact that hotels would now have a longer period to trade over the summer was of particular importance.
“It is crucially important to have as long a period as possible during summer to get a business in,” he said.
Mr Harte said hotels have already begun to adapt their services and facilities in anticipation of reopening under Covid-19 guidelines as they prepare to reopen at the end of June.
Aaron Mansworth, Managing Director of Trigon Hotels, said that it was “good to see things moving” in the right direction but said that the “information has to be digested”.
He welcomed the fact that hotels will be able to open up earlier to the domestic market but said air access is still an issue.
“We need international access too,” he said.
Mike Ryan, co-owner of Coqbull Restaurant in the city, said that while businesses may be allowed to open from later this month, that this does not mean they will actually open.
“It’s positive that they want to push things along, but disappointing that they are still talking about a 2m physical distance,” he said.
Mr Ryan said that the guidance around maintaining a 2m physical distance rather than 1m had significant implications for them and said that operating with a 2m distance meant they would operate at around 35% capacity rather than 50-55% capacity.
“Our overheads are still the same, it’s not as if we can turn off half the lights,” he said.
Mr Ryan said a decisive decision was needed on the issue.
The restaurant owner also said he believed it was beneficial to see businesses across the hospitality sector including gastropubs opening at the same time.
“People don’t want to go to town, have a meal and leave,” he said.
Meanwhile, Cork publican, Ernest Cantillon who owns Electric and Sober Lane, said that the announcement was “a relief” for staff.
“At the start everyone made plans for around three months and savings are taking a bit of a hammering,” he said.
Mr Cantillon said that the fact that people could travel countywide would increase the catchment area of businesses and would provide a massive boost for hospitality. “I can’t wait to get back to it,“ he said.
Although Mr Cantillon admitted he might not open straight away but wait a week or two and see how people are doing things.