Mixed messaging from Government on COVID restrictions has had a “deeply negative” effect on the hospitality industry, according to the Restaurants Association of Ireland.
Senior ministers are meeting today to discuss economic supports for the sector.
The Cabinet sub-committee meeting comes after the Government introduced a midnight curfew on bars, restaurants and nightclubs last week.
Hospitality industry representatives are calling for the Employment Wage Subsidy and Pandemic Unemployment Payment schemes to be extended for the industry.
On Breakfast Briefing this morning, Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) chief Adrian Cummins said there has been a large number of Christmas party cancellations in recent days.
“Some companies are rebooking early next year or purchasing vouchers from restaurants or venues in lieu of not having a Christmas party,” he said.
“The mixed messaging from Government is having a deeply negative effect on our industry – where the Government will say that the industry is open but on the other hand the message from public health is, reduce your social contacts and also the narrative around Christmas parties.
“It is having a huge effect on us; there are cancellations and we want the Government now to support us during this difficult time for our businesses as we face into the Christmas season.”
He noted that the Christmas season normally offers business a financial buffer that allows them to survive the start of the following year.
“The next six weeks for hospitality gives enough cash flow for businesses to have them cushioned for the first three months of next year,” he said.
“So effectively for every week of the next six weeks is like three to four weeks off-season for our industry.”
Mr Cummins said hospitality has been “flattened” throughout the pandemic and businesses need the supports to keep people employed and stay viable for next year.
“We had 260,000 people working in our industry,” he said.
“we have lost one-third of those and we want to protect the two-thirds that are in employment at the moment, so we have an industry ready to reactivate as soon as we can when we want to try and grow our tourism product and numbers coming into the country next year.”
He said everyone is fearful that more restrictions could be introduced in the coming weeks – but insisted that hospitality would follow any advice that is introduced.
“We need to make sure that we don’t overload the hospital system at this critical time but we are saying to the Government, give us the funding now so we can be supported,” he said.
“We have always done what we have been asked to do through the pandemic and we will continue to do that.”