Opinion

Three weeks is a long time in the on-trade

Hands up - how many of you can remember what life was like just three short weeks ago?

 

Today, all that has changed (probably a number of times over the intervening three weeks) and many publicans might be feeling a degree of despair about the sheer speed of developments since then, the present lockdown and the future of their businesses.

But while some of the cavils remaining should be taken seriously by those sectors of industry they’re addressed to, by-and-large the Government has taken unprecedented actions that can only be described as positive.

Of course it could do more, but it could have done less too – and that would have been even more catastrophic for the hospitality trade.

A series of wide-ranging measures has been undertaken to help the hospitality industry survive this maelstrom and more are likely to be on the way, all with a view to helping the trade open its doors when this is all over – and to be able to keep those doors open.

“We’re facing a public health emergency, which in turn is leading to an economic recession – but as is always the case, it has always been the case, we will get through it,” stated Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in seeking “the reverse of austerity” who added recently that the objective “if I have anything to do with it” is to avoid another era of tax increases and the austerity that hallmarked the last financial crisis.

Potentially this could include tax cuts such as the reduction in VAT for the tourism, service and hospitality industry as witnessed at the beginning of the last decade among other things.

When so much of the news is bad, it’s surely instructive to view the way that suppliers have rowed in behind the licensed trade in taking back stock, offering to credit unused kegs and bottles etc and generally being understanding of the publicans’ predicament. They too are suffering losses during this crisis.

Indeed if everyone plays their part on the team we’ll be able to face the future with more confidence. It’s time that some  – those stubbornly holding out on helping the hospitality sector – realised this and begin to think about the downstream effects of their short-sightedness in refusing to play ball along with the rest of the team.

But for those who’re onboard already, it’s simply arresting to note how much good has been garnered in just three weeks –  indeed, three weeks is a long time in the on-trade these days.

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