Calls for clarity on return of indoor dining as the sector warns of 'catastrophic economic effects' if delayed

Calls for clarity on return of indoor dining as the sector warns of 'catastrophic economic effects' if delayed

Restaurants, bars and pub across Cork and the rest of the country are calling for clarity on the scheduled return of indoor dining on 5 July. Sasko Lazarov / RollingNews.ie

ANY delay in reopening indoor hospitality will have “a catastrophic economic effect” on restaurants, pubs and cafes, the Restaurants Association of Ireland has warned.

The Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) has said that businesses are currently in the planning stages for the return of indoor dining with regards to restocking, rostering and preparing to reopen on 5 July.

“A last minute, late postponement will have financial impact in terms of loss of stock,” they said.

The Association stated that any delays will have “a catastrophic economic effect on Restaurants, Cafes and Pubs specifically those in tourist areas”.

The RAI added that they are seeking an urgent meeting with Government to clarify the situation.

It comes after Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said that is he concerned about the Delta variant, stating that it is “too early” to say whether the further reopening plans will go ahead on July 5.

Cork Chair of the RAI, Mike Ryan said that restaurants across the country are preparing for the return of indoor dining.

While delays would impact all restaurants, bars and cafes, the greater impact will be on those who have not been able to open yet, he said.

“We’re back into the uncertainty land of not knowing what is happening and being left until the 11th hour to find out exactly what’s happening."

Mike Ryan, who owns CoqBull and the Cornstore Restaurants, said there is already a lot of uncertainty for those operating outdoors with regards to the weather.

Mike Ryan demonstrating a 'pick up' service from Richard Desousa (behind the protective screen). Pic Larry Cummins
Mike Ryan demonstrating a 'pick up' service from Richard Desousa (behind the protective screen). Pic Larry Cummins

“That’s the uncertainty of not knowing when we’re going inside- that’s what you have to deal with, but also then we have members who are actually stocking up again, getting ready to open and starting to prepare their orders for the fifth and they don’t know for certain.

“They might be told on a Friday that they can open indoors," he said.

Mr Ryan said that people “should know now” what the plan is and also noted how those who have not opened yet are “really under pressure” to find staff.

“It’s very frustrating for the people that are closed looking at premises that are operating somewhat at a reduced level. 

"But at least they are operating. I feel for them, I really do. It’s hard.” 

Meanwhile, The Vinters Federation of Ireland (VFI) said that the scheduled full reopening of the hospitality sector on 5 July will mean a return to work for over 25,000 staff and the opportunity for publicans to “salvage something from 2021 and tide them over until next year”.

The VFI said that July 5 must proceed as planned.

Padraig Cribben of Vintners Federation
Padraig Cribben of Vintners Federation

Padraig Cribben, VFI Chief Executive said the comments from Government ministers “is causing huge upset and concern in the hospitality sector”.

“With only two weeks to go it’s not acceptable to treat our members in this manner,” he said.

Mr Cribben called for immediate confirmation that reopening will proceed as planned.

“The fact Government will not make a final decision until Friday 2 July – just three days before reopening – illustrates how detached Ministers are from the realities of running a business."

The mental stress this uncertainty is placing on our members cannot be overstated.

He said it is “beyond belief we are now thinking of going backwards while the rest of Europe moves forward”.

Mr Cribben added: “We’re already lagging behind the UK and mainland Europe when it comes to reopening. July 5 must proceed as planned.”

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