Lack of roadmap for hospitality sector increases anxiety and uncertainty

The lack of any detailed plan for how the pub sector will reopen is a major flaw in the Resilience and Recovery 2021 plan published by government and will prolong the anxiety and uncertainty for over 7,000 publicans, their families and staff, the Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) has said.

As the pub sector approaches the one-year anniversary since it closed on March 15 last, there remains a complete lack of clarity from government about how the hospitality sector will restart.

VFI chief executive Padraig Cribben said: “While public health is the number one priority, government must provide some hope for the thousands of people working in the pub sector who remain unemployed for almost 12 months. It’s incredible the Taoiseach did not signal what would happen after April 5, especially after his recent vague comments that hospitality would remain shut until ‘mid-summer’.

“Over 50,000 people work in the pub sector so we hoped government would recognise the huge uncertainty swirling around the sector and outline a plan for reopening. The Taoiseach says he knows people are sick of lockdown but the complete absence of any hope for the pub sector undermines his warm words.

“The lack of detail about how the pub sector will reopen is completely unacceptable to our members and their families. They deserve a roadmap to reopening that explains what must happen to allow pubs commence trading.

“There is certain key data that will determine when the sector will open such as how much of the population needs to be vaccinated. Without understanding the numbers that need to be reached we’re simply scrambling around in the dark.

“Given the circumstances members are facing, it’s not acceptable that so far government refuses to increase the CRSS payment. The current 10% rate is not enough for publicans who have no clue when they will be allowed reopen. We’re calling for the rate to be increased to 20%.

“At some stage, clarity about reopening will have to be provided. Today is a missed opportunity and highlights the desperate situation our members face,” Mr. Cribben concluded.

'Extreme disappointment'

Meanwhile, the Restaurants Association of Ireland has said the new Living with Covid plan doesn’t give restaurants or hospitality a clear road map to reopening with specific dates and metrics.

Expressing 'extreme disappointment' at the government’s announcement this evening, the association said extension to existing supports do not go far enough and said that it was unacceptable that no clear path to reopen was outlined and no information given on what metrics will now be used to determine reopening dates for restaurants and hospitality.

Adrian Cummins, CEO of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, commented: “The sector has been closed almost a year now and has complied with restrictions and lockdowns preventing businesses and employees for being able to work and to earn a living. They are now tiring and running out of money and in need of sight of the end goal.”

He continued: “If we are all in this together, why are we – the public, businesses and employees – not being informed of the plan for reopening sectors? What metrics are being used, be they vaccinated people, hospital admissions, the R number? What do we all, as a society, need to work towards to safely reopen again? Until that day, what meaningful supports will be offered to businesses who simply cannot trade and are keeping banks and landlords at bay?”

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