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Cheers to that Hospitality trade will ‘take off like a rocket’ as 8pm curfew and Covid pass axed

Owners’ delight as Freedom Day opens the doors to a public eager to enjoy itself

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A tour group leader stops with his group of tourists at the Temple Bar in Dublin on the day coronavirus restrictions were eased across Ireland

A tour group leader stops with his group of tourists at the Temple Bar in Dublin on the day coronavirus restrictions were eased across Ireland

A tour group leader stops with his group of tourists at the Temple Bar in Dublin on the day coronavirus restrictions were eased across Ireland

The hospitality sector will “take off like a rocket” this spring with the lifting of nearly all restrictions.

That is according to Adrian Cummins, chief executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, who described it as “light at the end of the tunnel” for many businesses.

Mr Cummins joined the chorus of hospitality workers from around the country who are looking forward to a mini-boom helped by some of the €7bn in additional savings Irish households built over the past two years.

Liam Edwards, owner of Jim Edwards pub and restaurant in Kinsale, Co Cork, said: “I have 100pc confidence that customers are ready to come back. We stayed open over the winter and I’ve already seen the demand is there — even with the 8pm closing time.

"Also, with the virus at its height, people weren’t able to go out and enjoy Christmas, so I firmly believe people are looking forward to coming out again and we’re ready to hit the ground running.”

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Anthea Richard, a waitress, sprays disinfectant on a table at The Old Stand pub, Dublin city centre, preparing to open for a full day’s trading as the coronavirus restrictions were eased

Anthea Richard, a waitress, sprays disinfectant on a table at The Old Stand pub, Dublin city centre, preparing to open for a full day’s trading as the coronavirus restrictions were eased

Anthea Richard, a waitress, sprays disinfectant on a table at The Old Stand pub, Dublin city centre, preparing to open for a full day’s trading as the coronavirus restrictions were eased


Anthony Gray, who owns Hooked and Eala Bhan restaurants in Sligo, said: “I’ll be opening a glass of Champagne tonight. We sacrificed enough for two years.

"Remember this has had a huge knock-on effect on taxis, beauticians, hair salons and so on. It’s high time we can get back working and doing what we do best.”

Mr Cummins warned price rises are inevitable over the coming months as inflation rises at the fastest rate since 2001.

“Inflation is rising, as is the cost of living, and that includes the hospitality sector, but that’s a matter for Government and how they deal with it.

"They could help us out by not increasing the VAT in September so restaurants won’t have to pass it on to the customer,” he said.

Businesses will have to balance the need to protect the recovery with price increases as new figures from the Central Statistics Office show rises across a range of products, including bread by 5.3pc.

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Overall, food and non-alcoholic drinks are up 1.6pc on an annual basis, with increases also in energy and fuel costs.

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Will and Laura, with their dog Alfie, at Grogan's pub in Dublin as restrictions eased. Photo: Damien Storan/PA

Will and Laura, with their dog Alfie, at Grogan's pub in Dublin as restrictions eased. Photo: Damien Storan/PA

Will and Laura, with their dog Alfie, at Grogan's pub in Dublin as restrictions eased. Photo: Damien Storan/PA


In Dublin, cafes and salad bars are looking forward to the return of office staff.

Pamela Fitzmaurice, who co-owns Blazing Salads vegan deli on Drury Street, said: “When we closed in March 2020 we didn’t really understand the full impact it would have. We didn’t realise how much of our business relied on corporate customers and people working in the city.

“Many people are still working and eating their lunch at home and some will go back to the office two or three days at week, but I don’t think that will be enough for some businesses. I think a lot are going to have to pivot and change their model to broaden their reach.”

Ms Fitzmaurice is being cautious in her outlook. She is planning for April as the time when footfall picks up again.

“I think it is going to take a few months to really get going. The new bank holiday that has been announced on St Patrick’s weekend will have a great impact and then it will take off from there as the weather gets nicer.

"We are very lucky that Drury Street was pedestrianised, we are in a very good location and the city is very busy at weekends.”

It is estimated the extra bank holiday could generate €20m in tourism revenue, according to analysis by Fáilte Ireland.

The one-off holiday is tailored to fall on St Patrick’s weekend, which in itself delivers a boost of more than €50m to the domestic economy, giving a kick-start to summer.

Dave Morrissey, who owns the Lost Lane music venue and nightclub, said: “This news has come around so quickly it’s more akin to a thunderbolt than a light being switched on.

“We have been closed for the best part of two years so the night-time operators are really looking forward to getting going again. Some young people are in their second year in college and have never been inside a nightclub, which is insane. Expect lots of themes like The Roaring Twenties around.”

He added a word of caution, however, saying his view is that the recovery won’t be instant.

“It’s going to take time to build up and there has been a lot of lost revenue over the period of closure for so many businesses.

“It’s important that the supports are maintained and there is no cliff edge for businesses so we all get a fighting chance.”

Meanwhile, a proportion of household savings is also expected to leak into the foreign travel market as Ireland’s two biggest airlines cash in on the consumer bounce by launching ‘Freedom Day’ sales.

The celebrations could be short-lived as the cost of holidaying abroad looks set to sky rocket, with a huge pent-up demand and a dramatic decline in the number of available flights.

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