Many restaurants, bars and other businesses face a ‘massive staff shortage’ when restrictions are eased, according to a well-known restaurateur.
Paul Treyvaud believes a “real disaster” awaits businesses when they’re actually back open and the current pandemic supports end.
He was speaking amid speculation today that restrictions could continue into the summer.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn, meanwhile, has apologised to anyone who feels frustrated or angry after seeing a video clip in which he urged people to do a 'little bit more' to stop another wave of the virus.
Mr Treyvaud last month announced he planned to reopen his restaurant in Kerry this summer 'no matter what'.
On The Hard Shoulder, the restaurateur said many business-owners have done everything they possibly can, but are now 'financially and mentally broken'.
He accused the Government and NPHET of being so far removed from the private sector that they don't know what is going on.
He said: “There’s so many businesses that are going to open up, and they’re going to realise they’re chasing their tail from the last 12 months.
“If you’re renting a premises, you are going to face a colossal wall of debt that’s going to hit you… as soon as these wage subsidies stop, we are in serious trouble.”
He said many businesses don’t realise that previous staff will no longer be available.
He suggested the likes of bar managers or restaurant chefs will have sought other jobs as the €350 PUP isn’t enough for them.
“There’s going to be a massive staff shortage… I think that’s the biggest problem we’re going to have.”
'Worst hit sector'
Meanwhile, Mary McKenna - managing director of Tour America and Cruise Holidays - warned that unemployment will become a real issue for the hospitality and tourism sector post-lockdown.
She said she doesn’t think the Government realises the extent of the ‘pain’ the ongoing restrictions have caused for businesses such as hers.
She said: “I am concerned, and I don’t know if the Government truly understands our industry and the importance of tourism.
“You can see Aer Lingus has already moved a lot of their aircraft to the UK. That has an impact on the country and tourism coming in.”
Ms McKenna said her own sector has been decimated by the pandemic, and they’re possibly the sector 'worst hit' by a year of tough restrictions.
She said: “There is going to be a lot of unemployment in this country.
“The tourism sector, the restaurant sector… all that has been so badly hit. I have a lot of staff who were trying to get mortgages… they’ve been affected by COVID. All that type of stuff builds up.”