'Not viable with two metre rule';

'Not viable with two metre rule';
Failte Ireland CEO Paul Kelly 

BUSINESSES working in the hospitality sector in Cork have welcomed the publication of new guidance for the sector, but admit it will bring some serious challenges.

The guidance, published by Fáilte Ireland, provides detailed advice for hotels and guesthouses, caravan and camping, self-catering business, attractions, B&Bs, activity providers, and restaurants and cafes planning to open later this month.

It sounds the death knell for the traditional hotel buffet breakfast as we know it. Self-service carveries or breakfasts can only be provided where “physical distancing and other Public Health advice can be followed”, the advice states, and only appointed staff members can serve or handle the food.

The guidance will also mean significant changes to the spa experience and in situations where physical distancing “cannot be reasonably practiced”, and therapists must be provided with appropriate PPE, it states.

Viewing chairs and seating near pools will be removed. There will also be changes to activities such as golf. Guest caddie services offered to guests are to be suspended and hotels have to increase the space between tee times to 15-minute intervals.

For weddings, signage will be put on tables and dance floors asking guests to respect physical distancing guidelines, and the guidance says that “employees must monitor and manage distancing.”

KINSALE RESTAURATEUR

Kinsale restaurateur Liam Edwards
Kinsale restaurateur Liam Edwards

Liam Edwards, owner of Jim Edwards restaurant, Kinsale, said the new guidelines were welcome, but that a lot of questions still remain. 

Such questions include whether staff are required to wear PPE, what group sizes will be allowed, how many people from different households will be allowed to dine together, and if there will be a requirement to take the contact details of all members of a party, and if such a move is allowed under GDPR. 

“The health side is ok and we are all getting Covid ready, but a lot of questions that still need to be answered,' he said. 

Jim Edwards provides family-style dining, and Mr Edwards said that businesses like his will find guidance around plating meals individually difficult.

Mr Edwards said he also remains concerned about the advice around maintaining two-metre physical distancing. 

“Unless we can go from two metres to one metre I can’t see businesses being viable,” he said.

CORK CITY HOTELS

Conor O’Toole, general manager, Clayton Hotel, Cork.
Conor O’Toole, general manager, Clayton Hotel, Cork.

THE Clayton Hotel in Cork is one of a small number of hotels which has remained open during the outbreak, and its general manager Conor O’Toole said that this means that they are slightly ahead of the curve.

Amongst the changes the hotel has already put in place are that guests no longer need to check-in or out at reception.

Guest rooms are sanitised before and after cleaning using a special ‘Anolyte’ system.

“For breakfast, people will still be able to sit down in the restaurant,” explained Mr O’Toole, however, when people order a continental breakfast they will be given a basket of individually wrapped items. 

Mr O’Toole said that the new guidance is “very positive” but said the recommendations around whether people have to maintain two metres or one-metre physical distance could mean a difference between the hotel being at 50-55% occupancy or 80%.

Fergal Harte, general manager of The Kingsley.Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Fergal Harte, general manager of The Kingsley.Picture: Eddie O'Hare

FERGAL Harte, general manager of the Kingsley Hotel and chair of the Cork branch of the Irish Hotel Federation, said he sees the new guidance as “a real positive” for the sector. Mr Harte said that while there were “definitely some new challenges” for hotels before reopening, he didn’t “think there’s anything that we can’t overcome.”

He said he would be hopeful to see guidance around physical distancing changed from two-metres to one-metre “when the time is right”.

CORK CARAVAN PARK

Con Quill, CEO of the Irish Caravan and Camping Council and owner of Blarney Caravan and Camping Park.
Con Quill, CEO of the Irish Caravan and Camping Council and owner of Blarney Caravan and Camping Park.

CON Quill, owner of Blarney Caravan and Camping Park and CEO of the Irish Caravan and Camping Council, welcomed the operational guidance.

He said while the vast majority of operators are keen to open, they will face hurdles. “There are challenges around communal areas and some sites will have to limit occupancy to ease pressure on this,” he said.

Mr Quill said they will also have to look at how to manage their service block and limit the numbers staying at any one time.

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