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on the brink Irish restaurants facing ‘financial meltdown’ as hospitality sector unlikely to reopen until middle of summer

Restaurants Association of Ireland CEO Adrian Cummins has said that today’s comments by an Taoiseach Micheál Martin “put restaurants and hospitality businesses closer to financial ruin and meltdown”.

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A maximum of six people can be seated at a table under the new rules

A maximum of six people can be seated at a table under the new rules

A maximum of six people can be seated at a table under the new rules

The hospitality industry is being pushed closer to "financial meltdown" after Taoiseach Micheal Martin said it is unlikely pubs and restaurants will open before the middle of the summer, the head of the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) has said.

RAI Chief Exectutive Officer Adrian Cummins was responding to an interview on RTÉ's Raidió na Gaeltachta this morning where Michael Martin, when asked about the reopening of hospitality, said he did not foresee that happening before the middle of the summer.

"What the public health authorities are saying is that we stick with this until end of April, then we reflect on the situation and make decisions about the months ahead," Mr Martin said.

Mr Cummins said the government now needs to increase the level of business supports for all hospitality businesses in order for the survival of the sector.

“And remain ready to re-employ hundreds of thousands of tourism and hospitality workers currently on the PUP payment,” Mr Cummins said.

“The Government now needs to set out clearly what level / percentage of the population will be required to be vaccinated in order to fully reopen all hospitality businesses.

“Finally the Government needs to clarify if mid-summer for reopening is the start of June or the start of July as businesses will need to plan for reopening with public health allows.”

However, Mr Martin also said the Government and public health officials believe the coronavirus numbers are far too high and that the Government and public health officials are particularly concerned about the emergence of new variants.

"While I am happy that we are making progress with the vaccination programme," Mr Martin said, "any easing of the restrictions has to be slow and cautious because of the threat from new variants of the disease."

"These variants are our biggest concern for managing the disease in the immediate future," he added.

“The biggest challenge we face is new variants as they could impact the vaccines. It’s sensible to open slowly, as the vaccines are coming,” an Taoiseach said while speaking on An tSeachtain le Máirín Ní Ghadhra on RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta.

Last night health officials confirmed that three cases of a Brazilian variant of concern were found in Ireland and that contact tracing of all possible contacts of these three people was under way.

People will not be permitted to meet in groups outdoors or travel further than 5km from their home until at least May under a new plan for Living with Covid-19 being considered by the Government.

Meanwhile, the country is facing into at least 10 more weeks of lockdown with the health service still struggling to deal with the variant of Covid-19 which first emerged in Britain.

The Taoiseach and his ministers were given a grim outlook of the coming months by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) at a Cabinet committee meeting on Covid-19 on Thursday.

Three ministers who attended the meeting insisted there will be no easing of restrictions until May – beyond the reopening of schools and the return of construction work.

However, Mr Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar sought to play down suggestions Level 5 restrictions would remain in place for more than two months despite their ministers privately conceding there would be no lifting of Covid regulations.

Ministers said guarantees could only be given on schools returning next month and possibly construction in April, and only in May will any other restrictions be examined by the Cabinet.

Ministers said the Government will consider easing the 5km travel ban and people may also be permitted to meet outdoors in bigger groups if the virus is under control in May.

However, there is no expectation that any other sectors of business or society will return up to this point.


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