A Mayo late bar owner says he's "devastated and shocked" to hear that his sector is facing fresh COVID-19 restrictions.
Pubs, restaurants and nightclubs will have earlier closing hours from Thursday, after Cabinet approved more measures aimed at reducing the spread of COVID.
The new rule means hospitality businesses will have to close at midnight.
It comes just weeks after nightclubs and late-night venues finally got the green light to resume operating after being closed for over a year and a half.
Pubs and restaurants had previously had to close their doors at 11:30 pm, but that restriction was lifted last month.
Now, they face the prospect of having a 'curfew' reimposed for at least the next few weeks.
Michael Heenahan, owner of Heenahan’s Bar in Westport, told Lunchtime Live today's news caught him completely off guard.
He said: “I feel we are being blamed, yet again. We’ve heard the phrase ‘we’re in this together’... well seemingly not.
“I really don’t understand how we think rolling back the opening hours of late-night hospitality will resolve the problem.
"How can we expect the public to adhere to guidelines in one sector only?”
He argued that people have become relaxed in every aspect of day-to-day life, and more focus is now needed on ensuring public health measures are followed across every setting, not just hospitality alone.
He said his own team is a group of people who’ve "come to depend on me for employment and income”.
However, he said they’re facing another curtailment of opening and working hours.
"We waited and that wasn’t enough"
In a statement, the Licensed Vintners Association said the Government must now immediately reintroduce COVID-19 supports for the late-night sector.
LVA chief executive Donall O’Keefe said: “We were told that if we waited until the majority of the public was vaccinated we would be able to get back to trading. Well we waited and that wasn’t enough.
“Like the rest of the country, of course we are conscious of the worsening health situation. But this will still be really hard news for those working in the sector to take.
“Late night hospitality was closed for 585 consecutive days, got to open for 27 days and now they face another indefinite period of closure. It also needs to be acknowledged that every time the Government flicks the switch on restrictions there are consequences for people’s livelihoods and the businesses that sustain those livelihoods.
“We will have enormous difficulty retaining our staff after this latest decision.”
Mr O'Keefe said the move casts “significant doubt” over the viability of the sector while the pandemic persists, asking: “Will we have to go through this whole process again and again?”
He said the return of full supports is the “absolute minimum” required now, but stressed that a conversation must also be had about a long-term solution.