Government recognises 'dramatic' impact of advice on hospitality sector, but we have to be cautious, says Minister 

Minister McGrath said that the once the Government considers the latest NPHET advise it will make decisions on support for the sector
Government recognises 'dramatic' impact of advice on hospitality sector, but we have to be cautious, says Minister 

The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform has said the government recognises that recent public health advice has had “a dramatic impact on the hospitality sector” but said that “we have to be cautious” in relation to the new Omicron variant.

PUBLIC Expenditure and Reform Minister Michael McGrath has said the Government recognises that recent public health advice has had “a dramatic impact on the hospitality sector” but said that “we have to be cautious” in relation to the new Omicron variant.

Speaking to The Echo last night, Mr McGrath said: “The situation with the Delta variant has definitely stabilised, albeit at a higher level than we would like.

“We are also already seeing the really positive impact of the vaccination booster campaign, and we will do everything in our power to accelerate that in the weeks ahead.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath. 
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath. 

“The difficulty we face is that there are so many unanswered questions about this new Omicron variant, and so we have to be cautious,” he said.

“The Government recognises that recent public health advice has had a dramatic impact on the hospitality sector.

“Once we have considered the Nphet advice, we intend to make decisions in relation to support for the sector. It is vital that businesses are supported so that they can get through what we know is a very difficult period,” he said.

Cork City chair of the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI), Michael O’Donovan, welcomed the minister’s comments.

“Since December 1, the employment wage subsidy scheme (EWSS) has been cut and I’m talking to publicans today that have seen reductions from 30% to 40% in their supports so we’re asking for that to be reinstated because we have seen widespread cancellations, especially of the corporate Christmas parties, they’ve just been wiped out now totally so we need supports.

“People are hopeful that people might still come out and socialise with families and friends but the corporate market is gone now and we need some support to survive into January with our staff to keep them in employment and to keep our businesses viable with those supports so we’d be asking the Cabinet to reinstate the EWSS to the level it was prior to the cuts.”

Mr McGrath said that people “could be forgiven for getting despondent but when you stand from it all, we have made enormous progress and our society and economy are largely open”.

“We want to keep it that way and I am confident we can with the continued support of the public,” he said, adding that the public has responded “really well” to the public health advice in recent weeks.

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