A Dublin restaurant has had to temporarily lay off 22 of its 26 staff due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
Concerns have been increasing about the impact COVID-19 will have on the hospitality industry, as restaurants, bars and cafés work to respond to the advice on social distancing and other measures aimed at reducing transmission of the virus.
Meanwhile, many restaurants are reporting large numbers of cancelled bookings as people opt to avoid public spaces.
The Restaurants Association of Ireland has suggested that "thousands of workers are being laid off" and that a specific aid package for the tourism and hospitality sector is needed "by Monday morning".
Hugo’s Restaurant on Merrion Row in Dublin is one of those businesses feeling the impact of coronavirus, with the restaurant now announcing a reduction in opening hours in response to the decreasing number of diners.
Hugo’s Restaurant on Merrion Row, in Dublin has just had to lay off 22 of their 26 staff due to #coronavirus
I spoke to Gina earlier this week as part of a report I did; the hospitality sector in going to need help ASAP @NewstalkFM pic.twitter.com/yHiksUDi2i
— Barry Whyte (@BarryWhyte85) March 13, 2020
Gina Murphy is the owner of Hugo’s, and she spoke to The Hard Shoulder about the serious decisions she has now had to make.
She told Ivan: “I had to make decisions today that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemies - I’ve had to temporarily lay off 22 of my staff.
“We’re a team of 26, so 22 is pretty substantial. We have scrambled for the last week… everything has just fallen off the edge of a cliff.”
She said there was no way to predict or prepare for the challenges the business has faced in recent days.
She explained: “We were an extremely vigilant company… I’m in business 13 years here.
“I have wonderful people, who are all working with me long-term… they’ve got families and children and mortgages.
“Every day for the last week, we have scrambled to try and slightly shift the matrix to try to fit the business - even up until last night we were doing skeleton rosters and trying to share out the shifts.
“I woke up this morning and there was another raft of cancellations, and I had to make the prudent decision. I can’t keep things going like this… I had to make changes to try and save the company."
Gina said the restaurant will now stay open with a "skeleton staff" from Wednesdays to Saturdays.
She's calling on the Government to "push the pause button on everything" to protect businesses during the ongoing crisis.