'The pandemic is causing a pandemic amongst our sector': Government urged to step up supports for businesses affected by restrictions 

'The pandemic is causing a pandemic amongst our sector': Government urged to step up supports for businesses affected by restrictions 

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The Government has been urged to step up supports to the many people who will be impacted by the latest Covid-19 restrictions, with one Cork hotelier saying “the pandemic is causing a pandemic” in his sector.

Yesterday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced that level 5 restrictions, with some adjustments, will come back into effect tomorrow.

Among the new measures, from 3pm on Christmas Eve, restaurants and gastropubs will have to close their doors, while hotels, for the main part, may only open for essential purposes.

Vienna Woods Hotel proprietor Michael Magner said that while he understands the need to control the virus, he is very concerned for the hospitality sector and he called for Government support.

“We need to be supported,” said Mr Magner. “We are potentially facing a long period before the vaccine is successfully implemented. We need huge support throughout 2021 for an industry that is vital to the economy.”

The Cork hotelier said he is devastated for all his employees who will once again be laid off for an indefinite period.

“The whole hospitality sector is heartbroken. We are devastated for the people who work with us. They have been laid off, rehired, laid off, and rehired again. It is heartbreaking.

“We completely understand there is a requirement to control the virus. My fear is this will drive people into their homes. That is the reality of it.”

Impacts being felt by suppliers 

Mr Magner said that indirect businesses will also be massively impacted by this decision.

Michael Magner, owner Vienna Woods Hotel in Glanmire. Picture: Howard Crowdy
Michael Magner, owner Vienna Woods Hotel in Glanmire. Picture: Howard Crowdy

“The various suppliers will all be affected, and we must remember they all employ people,” he said. “The pandemic is causing a pandemic amongst our sector. We are constantly getting it. We are burned out from it. Our people are exhausted.”

Cork City chairman of the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland and owner of The Castle Inn, Michael O’Donovan, said he was disappointed the Government’s decision was not made sooner, a move which would have suited all stakeholders.

“It is very disappointing that this decision has come so late,” he said.

“All the pubs have collected huge amounts of stock in recent days. This decision doesn’t leave them with much chance of offloading their stock. They will be at a huge financial loss.

“The short notice is the part that is really hurting our members. We were told last week it would probably happen on the 28th or the 30th. This alternative would have given them a week. Giving them two days’ notice of closing is very short.”

Government urged to increase CRSS rebate 

Mr O’Donovan has urged the government to increase the current CRSS

Michael O'Donovan of the Castle Inn.
Michael O'Donovan of the Castle Inn.

rebates which he says will considerably help his members who are understandably struggling to stay afloat.

He said that the vaccine cannot come soon enough.

“For us, as a traditional pub, we are probably looking at a prolonged closure. This is where the support is really needed as they won’t survive either. Looking at a prolonged closure is a nightmare scenario for our members,” he added.

Publican and restaurateur Ernest Cantillon decided not to open the doors of his businesses, including Electric and Sober Lane, this month.

Reacting to the news of the new restrictions yesterday, he said it is very tough for business owners.

“There are financial pressures and people’s livelihoods are at stake,” he said “The vaccine is very promising. Hopefully, these latest measures will work. We are all extremely frustrated with Covid, but we have no frustration with the Government. Public health is the main priority.”

Under the new restrictions, non-essential retail can remain open, but the retail sector will be requested to defer January sales events.

Cork Business Association president Eoin O’Sullivan said that while the lack of January sales would affect trade, allowing non-essential travel to remain open was a bonus.

“The lack of sales will have an impact, but I think the some of the sales could be done in late February,” he said.

The CBA president urged shoppers to wear face masks on busy streets to minimise their exposure to the virus in the city centre.

“We can see that some people are not wearing the masks on busy streets or social distancing, and I would ask people to adhere to the regulation, and regularly wash their hands also.”

New restrictions 

A number of other restrictions will come into effect over the coming days.

After December 26, people cannot travel outside their county.

Christmas religious services will move online after December 25, when places of worship may remain open for private prayer.

Up to and including December 26, visits from up to two other households will be permitted, however, this will be reduced to visits from just one household up to and including December 31. From January 1, no visitors are permitted in private homes/gardens (except for essential family reasons).

Gyms, leisure centres, and swimming pools may remain open for individual training only outdoor while golf and tennis will be permitted.

Up to and including January 2, 2020, there can be 25 people at a wedding. From January 3, there can only be six people at a wedding.

Full details of the new restrictions are available here

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