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Crisis Restaurants forced to close several days a week as staffing shortage hits home

Crisis exacerbated by number still receiving PUP, the CEO of the Restaurants Association of Ireland has said

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A staffing crisis in the hospitality sector where restaurants are being forced to close for several days a week has been exacerbated by the number of those still receiving the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), the CEO of the Restaurants Association of Ireland has said. 

Speaking to sundayworld.com, Mr Adrian Cummins also revealed how the return of secondary school students this week has worsened the situation for many restaurants.

“There are a lot of restaurants closing on certain days the week, not closing down fully, but nearly every restaurant has a problem now with staff,” he said.

“There is not one restaurant that doesn't have a problem right now, to various degrees, so they may have to close down one day, two days, three days or even up to four days a week.

“And the situation has been really exacerbated this week because of the reopening of the schools,” he added.

“Let's just say the first years in college who wouldn't have been on the PUP because they are second level students, were effectively propping up the industry. They effectively were the life saver of our industry but they are all finished now and have gone back to school.”

Just this week, Bunnyconnellan Coastal Restaurant Myrtleville said that as a “direct result” of the staffing crisis within hospitality they are closed for this coming week up to Sunday 5th September.

“Opening hours past this date have not been confirmed yet,” they posted on their Facebook page. “Please keep an eye on our social media & website for updates. Thank you.”

They also added the hashtags #staffing #staffingcrisis #hospitality #autumn.”

Meanwhile, Mr Cummins has also said the PUP payments that are still being paid to 33,000 people who would have worked in hospitality meant many of them were not coming back to work.

“The numbers may have dropped by 2,000 or whatever it is (in recent weeks) but it's still a substantial number for our industry,” he said.

“There are 180,000 people (in hospitality) and 33,000 of them are on PUP, so that is about 15 per cent.”

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Mr Cummins believes the solution is to stop PUP payments for all the sectors that are open.

“So let's look at the facts here, you have 33,000 in hospitality, 24,000 in retail, 11,000 in construction and 7,000 hairdressers so there are four sectors are fully open right and they are on the PUP.

“The tax payer doesn't understand that of those on the PUP there's a percentage that are outside of the State drawing the PUP but don't even live in Ireland,” he added. “They got on PUP at the beginning of Covid, left Ireland but stayed on PUP.”

Last week it was revealed that the number of people due to receive the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) had fallen by less than 4,000 when compared to the previous week.

The 149,436 getting the PUP was down from 153,309.

It was the first time that the number of recipients has fallen below the 150,000 mark since the payment was introduced in March of last year at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, it was the second week in a row that the number has decreased by around 4,000, signalling an apparent stalling in the rate of reduction.

Along with PUP recipients, a further 184,213 were also on the Live Register at the end of last month.

The payments will be wound down following its closure to new entrants in July, with the top three rates will be reduced by €50, while those on the €203 rate will transition to the standard job seekers terms.

Rates will fall further in November and February of next year.

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