HOTELIERS in Cork have expressed their relief following the Government's decision to reverse cuts to the Employer Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) in an effort to aid businesses hit by new Covid-19 restrictions.
The Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe confirmed that a proposal to use the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme to help firms had proved "very complex and very costly".
Instead, the Government decided to maintain the enhanced rates of subsidy under the EWSS for a further two months as what he described as a more efficient and effective way to support businesses affected in the short term.
From February 1, 2022, the original two-rate structure of €203 per week and €151.50 per week will apply; for March and April 2022 the flat rate subsidy of €100 per week will apply and the scheme will end on April 20, 2022.
General Manager of the Address Hotel Eoin Daly said that the Government’s decision “is a great indication of how things can be done when the Government and the hotel bodies work together”.
He said that great credit was due to the Chair of the Irish Hotel Federation (IHF) Cork Branch Fergal Harte and Chief Executive of the IHF Tim Fenn who “kept communication very open with the members of the Government both locally and nationally”.
“We’re quite grateful to the Government for essentially changing their mind but to change your mind in a scenario like this shows a genuine interest in our body which we’re obviously thrilled with,” he said.
Dr Daly said that if the subsidies didn’t exist, hoteliers wouldn’t be able to pay some of their staff as the industry is not making the same money as previous years.
“For mental health, for a good Christmas for people, this was a great announcement and a great indication that when people talk to each other things happen,” he said.
He also thanked the local politicians who he said have been “a great support” to hoteliers since the pandemic hit.
General Manager of the Cork International Hotel, Carmel Lonergan, said: “We are very appreciative of the consideration that the Government and our Cork representatives have given the needs of the hospitality industry and the extension of the EWSS.
“The most important result is the security of jobs over the festive period and into the year while restrictions are in place.”
Mr Donohoe also decided to extend the end date of the CRSS to the end of January to help nightclubs that have had to close until January 9.
A further amendment to the Finance Bill 2021 will be brought in the Seanad stage next week to give effect to these changes.