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No room at the inn Hospitality bosses demand answer on closing pubs and restaurants after Christmas

Earlier today the Taoiseach said there was a "very strong likelihood" that extra restrictions would mean the closure of pubs and restaurants for New Year's Eve.

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Christmas drinks (stock)

Christmas drinks (stock)

Christmas drinks (stock)

Furious leaders in the hospitality industry say they have been treated as "scapegoats" following revelations that restaurant and gastropubs are set to close after Christmas.

Earlier today the Taoiseach said there was a "very strong likelihood" that extra restrictions would mean the closure of pubs and restaurants for New Year's Eve.

The Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan also said "we can't afford" to do Christmas and New Year's in the normal way this year.

Dr Holohan added that alcohol is "a particular challenge for this country" and that it leads to people becoming less vigilant with public health measures.

“Coming together, and socialisation and in particular socialisation that takes place in settings that facilitate people coming together and the use of alcohol…Alcohol, let's be honest, is a particular challenge to us in this country,” he said.

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Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin

"It is a challenge to maintaining social distancing and public health behaviour that are essential in the prevention of the transmission of this infection.”

Mark McGowan, President of the Restaurant Association of Ireland, said it was "an enormous slap in the face to hospitality professionals across Ireland".

He told The Pat Kenny Show: "We do feel like a punchbag when we're constantly in and out of lockdown like we are. It's quite clear that we need a scapegoat and that scapegoat seems to consistently come back to hospitality.

"When the news came out we were devastated to hear the restrictions were going to be imposed on the industry," he added. "It's such a vital time, there's 250,000 employees so it's a huge shock to their systems and their future is in doubt again."

Padraig Cribben, VFI Chief Executive, added: “This latest announcement caps an utterly disastrous year for the pub sector. While the vast majority of our members never got to reopen in early December, pubs serving food were given a chance to trade into next year but now that’s been snatched from them.

“It’s as clear as day that the sector needs a concise explanation - a roadmap - from Government and NPHET detailing under what conditions all pubs will be allowed reopen. The prolonged uncertainty has placed our members in the cruellest of limbos where there is zero clarity from decision makers about the trade’s future.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) has urged the Government to re-impose restrictions on household visits and the hospitality sector from December 28.

In a letter to Government, Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan’s team said home visits should be reduced to just one other household from three days after Christmas Day. Nphet also said pubs and restaurants should close from this date.

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