'Unlikely' bars and restaurants will reopen for Christmas, Tánaiste says

ireland
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James Cox
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has told publicans that it is "unlikely" bars and restaurants will reopen properly in time for Christmas.

In a conference call with 10 business groups last night, Mr Varadkar said the country would likely be on Level 3 restrictions when it emerges from the imminent Level 5 lockdown.

Level 3 restrictions mean that indoor dining would be banned, with limits of 15 people dining outdoors at pubs and restaurants.

CEO of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, Adrian Cummins, said 30 per cent of the industry's income is made during Christmas.

“If we don’t have an opportunity to trade during December, and that 30 per cent of income doesn’t come into our businesses, it’s game over for at least 50 per cent of the businesses that we represent. It’s that serious," he said.

Retailers

Meanwhile, retail businesses have also expressed their disappointment and "dismay" as Ireland prepares to enter Level 5 of the Government's Living with Covid-19 plan, with Retail Excellence warning that 60,000 retail jobs could be at risk.

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The restrictions, which come into place at midnight on Wednesday, will see only essential retail and services remain open.

Retail Excellence, the largest retail body in Ireland, representing over 2,000 retail businesses, has expressed its "deep disappointment" with the Government’s decision to close all non-essential retail.

No other European country has locked down retail in the way this government has done with retailers in Ireland.

Duncan Graham, managing director of Retail Excellence said: "Retailers have been contacting us throughout the day extremely concerned and upset at closing their business for six weeks at the most important trading period of the year.

"‘Non-essential’ retailers generate over 70 per cent of annual turnover over this quarter and these further restrictions will inevitably push many more businesses into insolvency."

The group warned that 60,000 retail employees' jobs could be at risk in addition to 30,000 who have already been laid off.

They also expressed concerns that more customers will turn to online shopping, with 70 per cent of this trade going to retailers outside the country.

Retail Excellence said: "No other European country has locked down retail in the way this government has done with retailers in Ireland."

The group has appealed to the Government asking for them to implement the following measures:

  • A ‘crystal’ clear roadmap to reopening
  • That ecommerce, online retailing is totally unrestricted
  • The TWSS is reintroduced with immediate effect
  • Further supports are made available to retailers to help with legacy debts such as rent payments

DublinTown, the organisation that represents 2,500 businesses in Dublin City Centre, expressed the "unanimous dismay" of its members at the Government decision to go to Level 5 for a period of six weeks on the run up to Christmas.

The group said: "Many members were already finding it difficult to keep their doors open but their fate may now be sealed by denying them the opportunity to trade at a time when they would generally do one-third of their annual sales. This certainly will mean job losses.

"DublinTown expects a significant level of business closures to ensue. As the number of empty shops rise, viable neighbouring businesses become vulnerable as the city loses its appeal. We know from the O’ Connell Street experience that it may take decades to recover from this and the demise of districts within the city may prove permanent."

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