The hospitality covid crisis. Why is the hospitality industry the apparent whipping boy of the Covid crisis? Recent HSE statistics seem to point to a reduction in the numbers of people contracting Covid. Of those people identified as infected, fewer are being admitted to hospital. The question then must be, why have such stringent procedures been introduced and why is hospitality singled out for what can only be described as draconian measures.
Over 150,000 attended recent sporting fixtures at the Aviva. Significant numbers continue to attend the provincial rugby and GAA fixtures around the country. Substantial supporters of premiership teams go to the UK to attend matches and no restrictions seem to be enforced there to the same extent as they are levelled at hospitality. This time of the year is critical for the survival of so many hospitality businesses, so the recent implementation of restrictions is bizarre. No one is denying that Covid is rife, but the levels of infection seem to be reducing.
Look at, for instance, meat plants: a sector that has proven in the past to be a source of concern for numbers testing positive. However, you never hear of this industry being mentioned as a source of infection from NPHET or government. I recently spoke to a local GP and he mentioned that large numbers employed in these plants are resistant to taking the vaccination. Yet this is largely ignored and under reported.
Hotels, restaurants and gastro pubs have strict governance in place for people attending the premises. The vast majority adhere to and enforce the regulations stipulated by NPHET. Yet, this sector is, in my opinion, scapegoated and made to bear the brunt of restrictions. Hotels and restaurants had millions of euros wiped off their books by the recent restrictions, which were enforced overnight by the government.
Whilst plans have been put in place to offset the losses, incurred by way of government supports, the damage will have long term impact.
More and more people are leaving the industry and will not return. Attracting people into the sector is almost impossible. When the pandemic first emerged, the phrase “herd immunity” was banded about. We don’t hear that now. Despite all the vaccines and near total uptake of vaccines, we are no better off. It seems that this latest strain, whilst more contagious, is less damaging and seems to present only mild illness. Some experts have acknowledged that as a virus mutates, it weakens, and this latest outbreak would seem to indicate that.
Hopefully we are seeing the beginning of the end of this nightmare.