Guidelines for reopening hospitality sector published amid call to reduce 2m social distancing rule

Fáilte Ireland has published guidelines for the tourism industry to ensure businesses can reopen safely on June 29.
Guidelines for reopening hospitality sector published amid call to reduce 2m social distancing rule

Fáilte Ireland has published guidelines for the tourism and hospitality industry to ensure businesses can reopen safely on June 29.

The sector-specific guidelines for the tourism and hospitality sectors have been published online today.

The guidelines were developed in collaboration with industry groups, with the Government also being consulted.

Fáilte Ireland says the guidelines are in line with the Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business and the Return to Work Safely Protocol.

They said the guidelines “provide detailed advice on the necessary systems to be implemented in order to instil public confidence and reboot business while adhering to public health advice and Government protocols.

“They are the first in a suite of new supports being rolled out by Fáilte Ireland to help tourism businesses to recover and re-open safely.”

They will be “regularly updated in line with Government public health advice as and when this advice evolves.”

Paul Kelly, CEO of Fáilte Ireland, said: “Throughout this crisis we have been working with tourism and hospitality businesses to give them the guidance and supports they urgently need.

“The next phase of our response is recovery, re-opening and rebuilding the tourism industry and renewing its vital contribution to job creation and regional development.

“This is the greatest crisis our industry has ever faced and the reality is that many tourism businesses will not be in a position to re-open.

“The purpose of the operational guidelines we have developed in collaboration with industry groups is to try to help those businesses that can re-open their doors to do so safely.”

'Huge problem'

Many groups, such as the Irish Hotels Federation and the Irish Self Catering Federation have welcomed the guidelines.

However, the Restaurants Association of Ireland said the inclusion of two-metre social distancing remains a “huge problem”.

While welcoming the guidelines, the RAI say nine out of 10 restaurants will remain shut with two-metre social distancing in place.

"We are asking the government to reduce the mandatory social distance from two metres to one metre," said Adrian Cummins, CEO of RAI.

“The World Health Organisation (WHO) states 1-metre is a safe social distance. To enforce a two-metre distance could prove detrimental to many small businesses who will struggle to survive the reduced customer capacity.

“We have fought hard on this issue and expect the required social distance to be change to one metre by 29 June.”

He added: “Comprehensive hygiene controls have always been part of Café & Restaurant standard operating procedures, with Ireland having some of the highest standards of food safety in Europe.

“Businesses will continue to enhance and implement such hygiene practices to ensure customer safety as they reopen.”

He also said that they will continue to lobby the Government for an aid package.

Me Cummins said: “With reopening imminent, a sector-specific aid-package is needed now. We require a 0% vat rate; a commercial rates write off and grants for businesses in adherence to the RAI 9-point recovery plan.

“We followed the rules. We shut our doors. And now we are asking the government to help us open them again.”

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Sarah McInerney, Mr Cummins said certainty is needed about the two-metre and one-metre physical distance, so that businesses do not go to added expense when making changes to their premises. If the required physical distance was amended to one metre he said that between 75% and 85% of restaurants could reopen.

However, he warned there will be casualties and asked why there was not sector-specific support. There will be job losses in the tourism, restaurant and hospitality sector unless there is a reduction in VAT and rates and the introduction of grants, he said.

“People are at the end of their tether, there is a lot of worry,” he said.

Mr Cummins also acknowledged that the Fáilte Ireland recommendations are a ‘living’ document, which means they can be changed.

- additional reporting from Vivienne Clarke

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