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'A monumental day': Delight as hospitality curfew to end after 678 days of full and partial closure

Martin announced the news this evening.

Image: Eamonn Farrell via RollingNews.ie

HOSPITALITY GROUPS HAVE today hailed tonight’s announcement as a “monumental day” for their industry.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin this evening announced that the 8pm curfew for the hospitality industry will cease from tomorrow morning, along with a raft of other restrictions.

Addressing the nation this evening, Martin said that “today is a good day” as he announced that a significant number of restrictions were being removed from 6am tomorrow. 

He said that closing times for the hospitality industry will return to pre-Covid times from tomorrow. 

Pub groups had been calling on the government to immediately withdraw the curfew to allow them operate as normal this weekend. 

It has been 678 days of full or partial closure in the industry. This will be the first time pubs will be able to operate totally unrestricted since the start of the pandemic. Previous curfews and rules around food being served severely impacted the businesses, pub groups said. 

Donall O’Keeffe, Chief Executive of the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA) described today as a “monumental day” for the hospitality sector.

He said: “This is a monumental day for all of hospitality. Overall the feelings of joy, relief and excitement are permeating throughout the sector. We are delighted this has all happened so quickly, the speed with which things have progressed this week has been amazing. Some in the sector were worried this day may never come.

“This is a special moment but it needs to be said this wouldn’t have been possible if it were not for the unbelievable effort put in by our health service and all our front line workers throughout the pandemic. They have done the truly hard and difficult work that has allowed the country to reach this point.”

While the removal of all restrictions is a massive step forward for the trade, there will be also a sense of trepidation as publicans attempt to rebuild their businesses after enduring some of the tightest restrictions in the world.

Padraig Cribben, Vintners’s Federation of Ireland Chief Executive said: “After a nightmare 22 months this is the news our members have been waiting for. The removal of all restrictions this weekend is the green light for pubs to get back to doing what they do best and I know for a fact they can’t wait.

“Across Ireland there are 7,000 pubs employing 50,000 staff so the benefits of reopening will be felt everywhere. Overnight, we are saying goodbye to vaccine passes, mandatory table service, contact details, six per table, sitting at all times, 1-metre social distancing, no pool or darts and the ban on using bar counters. It really is remarkable to see it all coming to an end.”

The Restaurants Association of Ireland CEO Adrian Cummins has described the announcement made by Government this evening to lift restrictions on Hospitality as a day of liberation for the sector. He said businesses are breathing a sigh of relief after two years of lockdowns.  

“Staff and customer safety will continue to be paramount for the sector. The Association also welcomes comments by Government that current supports will have no cliff edge. Hospitality businesses welcome the reopening of their doors without restrictions but know that it will take some time to trade out of this and small hospitality businesses country wide have built up debt over the past 2 years – supports will be vital.”

Fáilte Ireland welcomed this evening’s announcement by Micheál Martin on the significant lifting of restrictions for the tourism and hospitality sector.  

Paul Kelly, CEO of Fáilte Ireland, echoed his colleagues’ sentiments this evening. 

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He said: “The easing of restrictions announced by the Government this evening is a hugely positive step forward and provides much needed hope that in 2022 we will see the beginning of the recovery for our tourism sector. 

“Our priority at Fáilte Ireland throughout this pandemic has been on supporting the survival of tourism businesses and driving the recovery of the sector. Our focus remains steadfast and we have extensive work plans this year to help rebuild tourism and deliver a strong recovery in partnership with the tourism industry and Government.”

The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) also welcomed the announcement by the Government. IHF Chief Executive Tim Fenn described the move as a “new dawn” for the tourism and hospitality industry and the 270,000 livelihoods it supports.

Acknowledging the Government’s careful stewardship of the country through the pandemic, he welcomed the assurances given that businesses will not face a ‘cliff-edge’ on financial supports, saying this gave much needed certainty to businesses trying to plan their recovery. 

Fenn said: “The removal of restrictions is truly fantastic news for hotel and guesthouse owners and their teams. They have endured a turbulent, uncertain and, at times, deeply stressful period as indeed have their families and the many communities for whom tourism is the only show in town.”

Follow our liveblog of all the loosening of restrictions here

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