Lockdown rumours adding to hospitality 'staffing crisis'

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Lockdown Rumours Adding To Hospitality 'Staffing Crisis' Lockdown Rumours Adding To Hospitality 'Staffing Crisis'
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James Cox

Rumours about new Covid restrictions are exacerbating a "hospitality staffing crisis", according to the general manager of a hotel in Co Wexford.

Eibhear Coyle, the general manager of the Amber Springs Hotel in Gorey, told BreakingNews.ie: "It started off after we came back from the first lockdown, we had challenges where a lot of our staff had moved into jobs that were immune to the initial lockdowns, then we recovered well and recruited well."

He added: "We had lost a lot of skill, however, we trained and got through that during the summer, then we were getting to a decent place ready for December and now with the news that’s coming out, the rumours being leaked all over the place of lockdown we can see that all the interest in our job vacancies has gone. I can understand why, hospitality will be the first to go if there is a lockdown or if there are more restrictions and if you’re looking for work at the moment why would you move into an industry which is so susceptible to a lockdown or restrictions, so that’s really where we are at the moment and I understand, I get it, but the rumours aren't great."

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Mr Coyle said it's a "vicious circle" as new team members often "get a little bit nervous" about potential restrictions and job security, "then there’s logistics and major retail who are looking for the same people for staff".

"People are worried about their mortgages, they’re worried about pay, they’re worried about Christmas...presents for the kids, and it’s a bit more certain if you move into a different field whereas here it’s a little more uncertain if you look at the history we’ve had with lockdowns."

I can’t get a barman to save my life.

Mr Coyle explained that the situation is more difficult as hospitality is a "high turnover industry at the best of times".

"We do have vacancies now for entry level staff but the major area where you’re really looking for is high skill level jobs like chefs, qualified receptionists with experience, people in reservations with experience, and management is a challenge to get as well. I can’t get a barman to save my life."

Mr Coyle said he understands the difficulty for Government in making decisions with the ever-changing Covid situation, however, he called for more clarity for businesses.

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Eibhear Coyle, general manager of the Amber Springs hotel in Gorey, Co Wexford, said staffing issues are being made worse by rumours about Covid restrictions.

"These rumours and leaks are coming from somewhere, whether they’re being put in to soften the blow in the future or if it is a leak and perhaps decisions have been made, none of us are privy to that. Clarity is always good and transparency of planning with a lot of livelihoods at stake, so the more that we can plan for that the better as an industry.

“Hotels are probably not as likely or susceptible as the pub or restaurant trade to going under, I would be very, very nervous if I was running one of those businesses right now."

"I think there’s been a whole swathe of bar staff who have left the industry and won’t come back," he added.

Mr Coyle said the uncertainty will affect the normally busy Christmas period.

There’s no Christmas parties, there’s no office parties, there’s no big gala dinners.

"There’s no Christmas parties, there’s no office parties, there’s no big gala dinners, nothing like that it’s all gone. People understand that and the sentiment has been pretty much directed towards that, so it’s a challenging end to a very challenging year."

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He added: "The late night trade is effectively gone already. That has a knock on effect for everybody, all our bars are closed at midnight now and even for a wedding the bars close then which is difficult for wedding guests, that’s normally when they are only getting started."

The midnight closing time for bars has already had an impact on weddings and Mr Coyle explained that hotels are doing their best to reassure worried couples about upcoming dates, however, they can only do so much at the moment.

"We’re doing our best to reassure wedding couples and guests, they’ve already been through the ringer with having to change dates two or three times, then everything seems fine, now you’re hit with the bar closing at midnight and who knows what’s going to happen in the next few weeks, we’re trying to support them as much as we can, but it’s difficult when we don’t know what’s happening."

New restrictions were the result of the "meaningful Christmas" that the Government had hoped for last year, and Mr Coyle said notice will be the most important thing if more restrictions are to come in the next couple of months.

Notice

"The Government and whoever is making the decisions needs to understand that hospitality does not open and close in an instant, we have perishable stock, we have orders that need to be placed, there’s limited life on a lot of products, if you close a hotel coming into a weekend you will have products coming in from Friday, so there could be thousands of euros of stock there.

"The guests don’t know what’s happening and they’ll be upset after planning breaks, your staff are expecting pay cheques, the more notice and support we’re given the better, we understand it is a crisis situation, and we’ve done absolutely everything we’ve been asked to do, we’ve gone above and beyond and hospitality has been hit the hardest and if we are told to close we would be asking for as much notice as possible."

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