• Cyril McAree


The two-week shutdown in Kildare, Laois and Offaly can only be described as a huge shock to the management team, staff and owners (PREM Group) of The Osprey Hotel in Naas. We have only just started to get back up on our feet and have worked tirelessly to ensure our guests enjoyed a healthy, safe and comfortable stay with us. We followed the government protocols surrounding COVID-19 prevention to the letter and adhered to strict cleaning schedules, we installed sneeze screens, took out tables in the restaurant and reconfigured our lobby area to allow for social distancing.

Since we reopened on the 29th of June, we have done everything right. Our staff underwent stringent training, we spent a huge amount of money on equipment and cleaning, we managed dining, spa and swim times very closely so that too many people would not gather at the same time and to allow for social distancing. We also signed up to the COVID-19 Safety Charter, a Government-endorsed initiative which closely inspects tourism businesses to ensure the safety of guests, customers, and employees. Still we were shut down, and through no fault of our own.

As a direct result of this recent lockdown we will be 70% behind our forecasted Year on Year Revenue for 2020. Worse still, this shutdown will not only impact August, we are already receiving substantial cancellation volumes for September. We have already lost bedroom bookings and have had to cancel weddings, events and conferences.

This shutdown could have a longer-term impact on customer sentiment around travelling to these three counties. Despite the fact that the source of the clusters has been identified, a blanket ban around travel has been imposed suggesting that Kildare, Laois and Offaly are unsafe destinations for corporate and leisure travel. Some of our large corporate accounts were ready to resume travel and have now put that on hold which is a real concern. 

Our 160 employees are extremely frustrated, and this shut down has resulted in a serious confidence blow for all of them and their families.

It is an absolute disgrace to think that the recklessness of meat factory operators and owners has resulted in the closure of three counties. It has been well known for weeks that meat plants were hotbeds for the transmission of the virus. This should not have been a surprise to NPHET as similar plants across Europe have also been a cause of concern. Why did the Irish government not react sooner and take these meat plants to task? Why were they not inspected regularly and monitored carefully by health authorities? It is completely unjust that compliant businesses must now pay the price for the shoddy health and hygiene practices and non-compliance of others. There are over 12,000 hospitality jobs in Kildare. 8,800 of these jobs are now at risk with a €90 million drop in revenue anticipated before year end.

The government must face this impending disaster head on and not make matters worse by imposing shutdowns on businesses that had nothing to do with the recent outbreaks. We need assistance and support; we should not be made pay for the sins of others. Lessons need to be learned from what happened in Kildare, Laois and Offaly so that local lockdowns can be avoided in other counties.

We now need assurances that Government will take every step necessary to allow businesses to reopen on the 22nd August.


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