“We’re probably going to see job losses in that industry,” Fianna Fáil’s Lisa Chambers has said as tough new restrictions on hospitality loom.
Senator Chambers was one of a number of Government backbenchers who banded together to resist a proposal from NPHET that pubs and restaurants shut at 5pm; a compromise was reached and 8pm was agreed upon instead.
Yesterday Taoiseach Micheál Martin told Newstalk that:
“Over the weekend, officials are working… on schemes that can help people who are made redundant… [and] the companies to make sure they can stay viable so that when this wave passes we can get them reopened fully.”
However, Senator Chambers still believes the policy will lead to job losses in an industry that endured a torrid two years:
“Eight o’clock is an improvement,” Senator Chambers told On The Record With Gavan Reilly.
“It doesn’t really help the pubs because later on in the evening is when they do their trade.
“But it does at least allow the restaurants to do most of their trade. So it is an improvement but it is still a significant restriction on younger people and hospitality.
“There’s no doubt about it, we probably are going to see job losses in that industry as articulated by the Restaurants Association and the Vintners.”
Senator Chambers added that her mother works in ICU, so she understands the risk associated with the virus. However, she also believes that people will continue to meet up regardless of pub opening hours:
“People are going to socialise anyway, Gavan. I believe they’re already doing it and your texter there spoke about four children in their twenties that are already socialising. So people are doing it.”
She said that the Government had to consider the wider impact of NPHET’s recommendations:
“I know they [NPHET] have a job to do and the point I made on the [Leinster House] plinth was that we know we have to have some restrictions in place and we accept that we’re in a very difficult position and that we have to protect our health service.”
“The Government then has to take into account the social and economic challenges that come out of those restrictions. Jobs losses, people’s mental health, people’s wellbeing and not being able to socialise.
“And I just think, particularly in rural communities where I live, the local pub isn’t just about going for a drink. For a lot of people it’s where they go to meet people, to socialise - people who could be living alone - so there are other things the Government has to take into account.”
Main Image: A sign indicates a pub has closed to stop the spread of COVID-19. Picture by: Maureen McLean/Alamy.