Hospitality ‘hopeful’ curfew will be lifted

Taoiseach said country is seeing progress with Covid and expressed optimism about easing restictions.

A leading figure in Cavan hospitality says he is “hopeful and optimistic” that this week will see an easing of restrictions imposed on the sector.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) meet tomorrow (Thursday) and are expected to present their review on the easing of restrictions imposed on hospitality. It’s understood the Government have asked chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan to consider lifting the 8pm curfew on bars and restaurants amid speculation the current wave of the virus has peaked.

Last week Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the country is seeing progress with Covid and expressed optimism about the situation.

On Sunday’s ‘The Week in Politics’ Tánaiste Leo Varadkar stated the easing of COVID-19 restrictions from next month will happen on a phased basis.

As General Manager of the Slieve Russell Hotel, Tony Walker is paying keen interest to the decisions influencing how he goes about conducting business.

“There hasn’t been any real discussion about the easing of restrictions,” Tony says of the interaction between representative bodies and the government.

“People have been holding back waiting to see how Omicron impacted on everyone. Thankfully we have seen the daily hospitalisations stabilised and the ICU admissions stabilise. It does not seem to be affecting people as much as the previous variants.”

The positive outlook expressed by the Taoiseach and Tánaiste are welcome input to the conversation: “We are hopeful and optimistic we will see easing of the restrictions before the end of January. I don’t know if they will ease all restrictions in one go, the likelihood is that it will be a gradual process over a number of weeks. Certainly we would like to see some of the restrictions eased,” the Slieve Russell GM says.

New isolation rules

Tony says the impact of Omicron on staff supply has levelled off: “We had our challenges after Christmas and into the New Year, because of close contacts of family members. Thankfully the new isolation recommendations introduced last week help in that regard. Touch wood, all our staff are back to business again.”

As a luxury hotel the Slieve Russell has not felt the impact of the curfew to the same extent of other areas of the hospitality industry: “Most of our enterprise is driven by our residential business. We don’t do a large amount of ‘casual business’.

“We would like to see the curfew ease, not least to help our colleagues in the restaurants and bars across the country. They have been feeling the full impact of the restrictions.”

Wedding numbers

Around Ireland people preparing for marriage are also paying close attention to the announcement: “There are a lot of anxious wedding couples out there hoping the numbers do increase for their wedding, in February in particular. A couple of our January weddings moved out to later in the Spring, because they want to accommodate more family and friends. We would like to see some clarity on those dates. We also have a number of conferences booked in, and the co-ordinators of those events are a bit nervous too.”

Tony says despite the eagerness to lift restrictions there has to be consideration given to public health: “We have to take a cautious approach. The health and well-being of everyone is the most important thing.”