“What the public health authorities are saying is that we stick with this until the end of April, then we reflect on the situation and make decisions about the months ahead,” he said on radio yesterday.
“There won’t be much of a change because the numbers are still too high — what we intend is to reopen schools gradually, it will be slow, we’ll be cautious, because we have to monitor the effect on the virus.”
But both the contents and style of communication of the Taoiseach’s remarks met with criticism from the trade.
“The Government really needs to include some hope in the revised Living with Covid plan,” commented LVA Chief Executive Donall O’Keeffe, “There needs to be some light at the end of the tunnel for all those working in hospitality and other sectors.”
He explained that the government’s updated Covid plan due to be announced this week must paint out the conditions to be fulfilled to allow the hospitality sector to reopen sustainably.
“There’s a sense at this stage in our world that this is never-ending,” he stated, “And we do need some clarity, some hope that this sacrifice will pay-off and that our businesses will be able to reopen.”
With the prospect of a May or early June opening increasingly unlikely, poor communication from Government was adding “ferocious stress” to the 7,000 publican families in the country, their staff and their suppliers.
Political signalling around the future of wet pubs was “very negative” and there must be an immediate increase in the level of financial support for these businesses, he said, adding that the Government must re-double payments at a minimum to allow them to cover their fixed costs and to remain in a position to reopen in the future.
The VFI, too, expressed its disappointment with the method and content of the announcement in a tweet: “Far too casual from @MichealMartinTD Any announcement about prolonged closures need to be accompanied by plans for increased supports. Today’s news impacts over 200,000 families. Need more from An Taoiseach”.