The Vintners’ Federation of Ireland also described the trading curfew as “hugely disappointing” and pointed out that as a result many late-night pubs and nightclubs will now be forced to shut just three weeks after reopening.
The LVA said that this will be “extraordinarily difficult” for those working in late bars, nightclubs and the rest of the late-night sector and will place considerable pressures on livelihoods in the run-up to Christmas.
It also places a question mark on the longer-term viability of the late-night industry until such time as practical longer-term solutions are developed that allow businesses to trade while the pandemic persists.
The LVA also believes it essential that the various measures such as the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme, Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme and Pandemic Unemployment Payment are re-implemented immediately in full for the-late night sector and anyone impacted by these latest restrictions, along with the waiving of commercial rates for as long as the restrictions remain in place.
The Government’s decision will also seriously restrict other outlets at this most critical time of the year, stated VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribben.
“Given the deteriorating health situation it’s no surprise Government is forced to take action” he stated, “but it’s disappointing that the hospitality sector is at the forefront of those actions. Supports will now be vital for impacted businesses and we’re calling for the immediate reintroduction of the CRSS for members who have to close.
“Restricted trading hours will also impact traditional pubs who’ve to cope with cancelled bookings ahead of what was meant to be a busy Christmas period as public health advice is to avoid social gatherings. Given the new curfew and reduced trade the EWSS must be maintained in full until all restrictions are removed,” he stated.
LVA Chief Executive Donall O’Keeffe pointed out, “Effectively this latest announcement means that the current Government strategy isn’t working.
“We were told that if we waited until the majority of the public was vaccinated we would be able to get back to trading. Well, we waited and that wasn’t enough.
“Like the rest of the country, of course we’re conscious of the worsening health situation. But this will still be really hard news for those working in the sector to take. Late-night hospitality was closed for 585 consecutive days, got to open for 27 days and now they face another indefinite period of closure. It also needs to be acknowledged that every time the Government flicks the switch on restrictions there are consequences for people’s livelihoods and the businesses that sustain those livelihoods. We will have enormous difficulty retaining our staff after this latest decision.
“This latest reimposition of restrictions casts significant doubt about the viability of the late-night sector for as long as the pandemic persists. When will we be in a position to allow that sector to reopen and trade again? Will we have to go through this whole process again and again? What is to stop this cycle from repeating itself next year?”
The VFI’s Padraig Cribben echoed this sentiment: “We were told back in August after indoor trade was reopened that restrictions would be fully removed in October. We’re now in a position where restrictions are actually getting tighter. Supports will be crucial in the months ahead, a fact Government needs to address immediately for the simple reason the trade cannot sustain another period of profound uncertainty,” he concluded.
“What seems clear is that more nuanced, longer-term, practical solutions are now needed,” believes the LVA’s Donall O’Keeffe, “Solutions that will enable environments that are regarded as ‘high risk’ to operate safely. For example, perhaps now the Government needs to start examining affordable ventilation schemes for the industry?
“In the short-term it’s critical that the Government immediately outlines the reintroduction of the full level of supports for the people who’ll once again find themselves out of work and for the businesses who employ them. That is the absolute minimum required and is the essential first step before our sector can begin a bigger conversation about what co-existing with this pandemic really means,” he concluded.
However Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys has insisted that she will not reinstate the PUP.
“This is a curfew, it’s not closure,” she stated, “We’re not in a Lockdown situation as was the case previously when the PUP was needed. We’re not closing down businesses en masse as was the case previously.”
Cap: “Effectively this latest announcement means that the current Government strategy isn’t working. We were told that if we waited until the majority of the public was vaccinated we would be able to get back to trading. Well, we waited and that wasn’t enough.” – LVA Chief Executive Donall O’Keeffe.