Among the topics discussed were the immediate sector-specific supports needed.
Grants, for example, are urgently needed as no sector supports were provided for in the July Stimulus package and the majority of this sector cannot wait for more measures in October’s budget.
Closing time, originally set at 11pm, had been extended to 11.30pm but 12 midnight was now sought to allow businesses already operating at reduced capacity to facilitate a last sitting.
The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme was also discussed – a 42% decrease compared to TWSS rates and employees earning less than €151.50 a week cannot be excluded. The qualifying period also needs to be the full calendar year of 2020 versus 2019 instead of July to December.
On commercial leases, a panel needs to be formed of landlords, tenants, banks and government to work on a burden-sharing model as full rents are still being required by almost 83% of landlords despite the Government-instructed closure and reduced trading capacity.
The RAI has also called for a reduced VAT rate of 5% VAT for the entire tourism and hospitality sector in line with other EU member states, but particularly for border counties competing with the current 5% VAT rate in Northern Ireland.
The employer rebate for redundancy needs to be reintroduced according to the RAI which also pointed out that the Government’s Stay and Spend scheme excludes those who don’t currently pay tax; it therefore needs to be a ‘real time’ refund or voucher similar to the current UK scheme and it needs to start earlier than October as urban centres are struggling now and tourist destinations will struggle when schools return, stated the RAI.