Hotels and guesthouses have expressed their disappointment at details of the revised Covid restrictions announced by the Government today. Tim Fenn, Chief Executive, Irish Hotels Federation described the decision not to allow inter-county travel until as far out as 18th December as short-sighted. He said: “The failure to allow inter-county travel earlier risks undermining the Government’s objective of achieving a balanced approach that ensures continued public buy-in during the build up to Christmas. We are calling on the Government to reconsider this decision.”
Mr Fenn stated: “Public health is the No 1 priority, and we support the Government’s aim of reopening the country safely. However, as a result of this decision, the hotel accommodation remains effectively in extended lockdown. There is little difference between the level three announced and level five in terms of how hotels operate. Hotels could have played an important role in facilitating a safer reopening by providing very safe, highly controlled, spacious environments for people stay independent of their family home setting.
“We should be viewed as an important part of the infrastructure in enabling a safer Christmas. While we welcome the easing of restriction on indoor dining, it is deeply disappointing that the Government has chosen to compress family visits to such a short window at either side of Christmas. This will inevitably concentrate the number of gatherings in people’s homes over a short period, which poses additional avoidable risks.”
The economic implications and impact on hotel livelihoods will also be significant as many businesses will find that it is unsustainable to reopen for such a short period with continued restrictions, which will further threaten livelihoods beyond this very different festive season. Mr Fenn stated: “For many hotels, bookings from within their own county would only account for less than 10% of their December business. Given the enormous loss of revenue already this year, this extended lockdown will have a devastating impact – not only on hotels, but on their local economies, employees and communities.”