Slowly but surely Ireland is emerging from the Covid lockdown. We hope, like the chrysalis of a caterpillar, a new beauty will emerge. But, unfortunately, confusion abounds and the industry is now considered a scapegoat regarding closures. While selected openings are taking place in the next few weeks, the hospitality sector is looking at mid to late summer for a full return to business.
The latest proposals allow hotels to take guests from 2 June, but non-guests will not be able to come in and have a meal or a meeting in the property. According to the government press release, “Accommodation services, including hotels, B&Bs, self-catering and hostels can reopen [from 2 June]. Services – including leisure facilities, indoor restaurant and bar services – must be restricted to overnight guests/ residents only”. Restaurants are only allowed to offer outdoor dining from 7 June, with a cap on groups of six people. These stipulations are inadequate for any business to survive. The government indicated that 50 can attend a wedding or funeral, which seems in contradiction of the hospitality restrictions. The RAI has indicated they are considering a court challenge, but this comes too late to have any impact. Another area of concern is that previous employees within hospitality and tourism have found alternative employment and will not be returning to the industry. So, the expectation of increased costs to attract people back to the sector appears inevitable . Pay and conditions needs to be addressed.
As does the price of staycationing in Ireland this summer. In one media report, a family of four were asked to fork out €3,500 for four days at a leisure-style property. This type of gouging will only destroy the already fragile state of affairs. Noticeably, the northern part of the island is already open and trading, and will surely challenge the rest of the country. We are playing catch up on most of our EU partners and this may have a very detrimental impact on business. But hopefully our resilience, which has seen us through other dark and dismal days, will take us to the end of this tunnel and beyond into brighter days for Irish hospitality.
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