Michael Staines
Michael Staines

07.51 23 Mar 2021


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Half of Ireland’s restaurants face permanent closure unless coronavirus supports are doubled, according to the Restaurants Association of Ireland.

Pub, restaurant and hotel representatives will today come before the Oireachtas Tourism committee to call for increased supports and a plan for reopening.

The vintners will call for an end to the distinction between ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ pubs, as well as the need for a ‘substantial meal.’

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Meanwhile, restaurant owners will warn that only a small proportion of the country’s businesses are capable of opening on an outdoor basis.

People enjoying the sunshine while dining outdoors in Dublin city centre, 21-09-2020. Image: Sasko Lazarov / RollingNews

On Breakfast Briefing this morning, RAI Chief Adrian Cummins said half the country’s restaurants may never reopen.

“That is correct, unless our business supports are doubled,” he said.

“These businesses are what we would call treading water. There are a huge amount of fixed costs they have to pay on a daily basis and they are just not getting enough help from Government to keep their doors open and their businesses alive.”

He said restaurants also need a new plan for reopening that does not solely rely on outdoor dining.

“We all know the Government is saying that this year will be a summer of outdoors – that doesn’t fit into our business model so we need to know how this summer is going to look for our industry,” he said.

People enjoying food and drink on South William Street in Dublin cities People enjoying food and drink on South William Street in Dublin, 05-09-2020. Image: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews

He warned that the majority of the country’s restaurants simply, “don’t have the capacity or capability to open outdoors.”

“These businesses don’t have street frontage so we need to figure out what that looks like for our industry,” he said.

“For those that have the opportunity – which is about 25% of restaurants have outdoor space they can utilise – they are going to need capital expenditure grant aid to provide funding for wind breakers, for weather-proofing their premises and making sure we have all the safety conditions in place.

“So, all of that grant aid needs to be put in place as well. That has to be right across every country in Ireland and every business should be able to afford that.”

Reopening

Mr Cummins said the industry needs a clear reopening plan that sets out exactly how and when it will be safe to reopen.

“We understand that we have to wait until it is safe to reopen but we have never been told what the metrics will be for us to reopen – unlike other countries around the world where they have metrics in place,” he said.

“It is about ICU capacity, it is about case numbers, it is admission and it is also about the R number – we have never been told where we need to get to in order for us to reopen.”

He also noted that the 9% VAT rate will be crucial in terms of creating jobs and getting people back to work, just like it was after economic crash.


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