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Irish restaurants seeing 'jump in cancellations' amid coronavirus concerns, says Restaurant Association

The RAI is looking for an immediate reduction of the VAT rate to 9% for tourism and hospitality businesses.

Image: Shutterstock/Andrey Bayda

SOME 80% OF corporate bookings at Irish restaurants have been cancelled because of the novel coronavirus, according to the Restaurant Association of Ireland. 

The RAI is calling on the government to implement immediate business supports to keep the restaurant and tourism sector afloat as the number of confirmed Irish cases continues to grow. 

The Department of Health confirmed last night that another seven cases of Covid-19, including the first community transmission, had been diagnosed in the Republic of Ireland.

This brings the number of confirmed cases in the Republic up to 13. Three cases have also been detected in the North. 

“Decisive action needs to be taken immediately. My members need to know that the government supports them in this crisis and that the survival of Irish businesses is a top priority,” said Adrian Cummins, CEO of the RAI. 

Restaurants and small hospitality businesses across the country have seen a jump in cancellations over the last couple of weeks. With restaurants, a cancellation is often non-deferrable due to the time-sensitive nature of meals and special occasions.

“What we’re hearing from our members is that they are experiencing 80% corporate booking cancellations due to Covid-19.”

Among the restaurants reporting cancellations is Dax Restaurant on Pembroke Street Upper in Dublin.

“I know we have been sharing jokes about Corona 19 [Covid-19] but we lost 73 people for next week mainly large tables and groups,” Dax Restaurant tweeted. 

“Plenty of notice fair play to them BUT A WARNING to all it is going to be a difficult month of March ….and hopefully things will go back to normal. Keep faith” 

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) warns that the spread of the novel coronavirus could intensify a global downturn and is advising governments to ensure liquidity buffers are in place for affected industries worldwide. 

Irish food and restaurant businesses were already struggling to stay afloat in 2020 due to the high costs of doing business, according to Cummins who says if the OECD predictions come true, “Irish businesses are due to fare much worse”. 

The epidemic has also wreaked havoc on international business, tourism, and sports events.

A number of Irish hotels have seen “significant levels” of cancellations from Italian guests since the Ireland V Italy Six Nations match was postponed.

“Since the cancellation of the match, hotels are reporting significant levels of cancellations by guests travelling from Italy and numbers are now likely to be a lot lower than originally expected,” a spokesperson for the Irish Hotels Federation told TheJournal.ie.

The clash had been due to take place in Dublin this Saturday but was postponed due to concerns about the spread of Covid-19.

While the IRFU, Italian rugby federation and the Six Nations have been in talks about a possible new date for the game, nothing has been confirmed yet.

To minimise damage to the tourism and hospitality sector, the RAI is looking or an immediate reduction of the VAT rate to 9% for tourism and hospitality businesses for a minimum period of 6 months.

It also wants Irish Banks to defer loan repayments for at least 6 months, for Revenue to introduce a moratorium on VAT payments, and for employer PRSI to be halved to support employers.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

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Adam Daly

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