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Dublin restaurant sees '2,500 cancellations' as public concern over COVID hits Christmas business

Senior ministers are meeting this evening to discuss financial supports for restaurants, bars and nightclubs.
Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

18.59 22 Nov 2021


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Dublin restaurant sees '2,500...

Dublin restaurant sees '2,500 cancellations' as public concern over COVID hits Christmas business

Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

18.59 22 Nov 2021


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The owner of Dublin restaurant says they've recently had 2,500 booked seats cancelled, amid growing public concern over COVID-19.

Gina Murphy of Hugo’s restaurant is among those calling for fresh supports for hospitality, as the industry faces a fresh "pummelling" due to the latest surge of the virus.

A number of senior ministers are meeting this evening to discuss financial supports for the hospitality sector.

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They may include delaying cuts to the wage subsidy scheme and reactivating payments for pubs and restaurants.

The Taoiseach has acknowledged businesses are seeing cancellations as the public responds to calls for reduced social contact.

On The Hard Shoulder, Gina Murphy said Hugo's is seeing the "full force" of the cancellations.

Dublin restaurant sees '2,500 cancellations' as public concern over COVID hits Christmas business

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She explained: “Since Dr Holohan first came out and asked people to restrict their social contacts, two weeks ago… I’ve received 2,505 cancellations.

“That leaves us down 50% - that’s our forward bookings for Christmas. All the Christmas parties have cancelled - all the groups have cancelled, not just the offices. It leaves us in a very precarious position.

“The majority [of cancellations] are the Christmas parties, but we are seeing some people getting quite hesitant in small groups. We are getting twos and fours [cancelling]... people have been shocked.”

Gina said the extra busy period in December is usually the time of the year that helps restaurants keep going through January, February and March - but this year's festive business has “been destroyed” by the surge in COVID cases.

She said there's "no doubt" the sector is going to need help again as a result.

She suggested any staff who find themselves out of work due to new restrictions need to be getting more than the €350 rate previously offered under the PUP - arguing that they would have been earning significantly more that if they were working.

Meanwhile, she's also concerned about the impact a fresh shock to the restaurant business could have in terms of long-term staffing.

She noted: “If we go into another state of shock or paralysis where we lose our staff again… it’s not as easy as saying you can fill those positions [again].

"These are skilled positions… there are years of training behind them.”

Main image: Hugo's restaurant in Dublin. Picture via Google Maps

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