Hoteliers and publicans have expressed their disappointment at the Government decision to place Dublin at Level Three of restrictive measures as cancellations have begun to trickle in.
Business owners said the reintroduction of restrictions in the capital from midnight tonight, including a ban on indoor dining and travel restrictions for Dubliners, would be felt around the country.
Tonight also saw the Government announce new supports for Dublin businesses off the back of the restrictions, but hotel, pub and restaurant owners said the measures fall short.
“The tourism and hospitality industry has become the economic frontline of the Covid crisis,” Elaina Fitzgerald Kane, President of the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) said.
“The measures announced tonight fall far short of what is required not only in Dublin but for the entire country. Prior to Covid, tourism supported 270,000 livelihoods, one in ten of all Irish jobs. Of these 100,000 jobs have been lost already and a further 100,000 are at immediate risk.”
Ms Fitzgerald Kane said the restrictions on the capital would impact tourism around the country: “While the effects will be felt acutely in Dublin, they will also be detrimental to many tourism businesses across the country with Dublin residents currently accounting for between 30 to 50 per cent of the domestic market.
“Already hotels and guesthouses across the country are reporting cancellations… due to the drip feed of news this week about the potential lockdown.
“It is also very disheartening that only six hours’ notice was effectively given which shows little understanding of how our businesses operate. There must be learnings from this.”
Meanwhile, Drinks Ireland said today’s announcement would be “the final blow for many businesses already struggling to stay afloat.”
It slammed the Cabinet decision to “essentially close Dublin’s hospitality sector” as “disproportionate” and listed 25 European countries where bars and cafes are currently open with restrictions.
“We see that these countries are managing hotspots with targeted measures that do not mean a total closure of a vital sector and economic diver,” Director of Drinks Ireland Patricia Callan said.
“The hospitality sector should have been allowed to stay open in Dublin, or in the case of wet pubs, reopen in a safe and sustainable manner.
“The Government must stop unfairly targeting an entire industry that is already on its knees, treating the sector as a political scapegoat.”
Business supports announced by the Government this evening include the following:
- A 30 per cent top up costing €30 million to the Restart Grant Plus scheme to help businesses shoulder the costs of reopening.
- Applications for existing loan and voucher schemes to assist businesses affected by Covid-19 will be prioritised from Dublin.
- A dedicated helpline will be established to help companies access relevant enterprise supports.
- Other employment and income supports, including the Pandemic Unemployment Payment and Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme, will continue to be made available and funded by the Government.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar TD said: “As the Minister responsible for enterprise and employment, I know how devastating today’s news is for the business owners of Dublin and their staff.
“Trust that we did not take this decision lightly. I know this is a second closure for some and continued closure for others.
“The public health advice is overwhelming. We must stop the virus in its tracks now in order to protect our most vulnerable and make sure our health service doesn’t get overwhelmed.”