Hoteliers disappointed at delay to expansion of gatherings

Hoteliers have expressed their deep disappointment at the decision announced this evening by the Government not to increase the size of indoor gatherings from 10th August. Elaina Fitzgerald Kane, President of the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) said: “We recognise the difficult balance the Government has to achieve in reopening the economy, and hoteliers are fully committed to continuing to play our part in ensuring public health is to the fore of everything we do. We have demonstrated this through our strict adherence to the operational procedures developed for our sector and we have been open for four weeks now with no public health issues.”

“We would ask the Government to review its approach to larger gatherings specifically in the context of hotels given the robust safety procedures and policies we have in place. We don’t believe a one size fits all approach is appropriate when setting a cap on gatherings, particularly for larger venues with a proven track record in managing gatherings safely in a controlled environment,” she said.

The IHF President stated: “Hotels and guesthouses across the country have now been open and operating safely for over a month, including hosting gatherings, without any reported incidents. This shows the effectiveness of the current COVID-19 operational guidelines, which are being strictly adhered to by the hotels sector, having been developed in collaboration with Fáilte Ireland and approved by the HSA, HSE, HPSC and the FSAI.”

With the latest IHF survey showing occupancy levels of less than 30% likely for the year as a whole, Ms Fitzgerald Kane said that being able to host gatherings is critical to the viability of many hotels. “Given the very limited season that most hotels will have this year, events could be the difference between venues being able to stay open or having to close and the resultant job losses. The wedding industry, as one example, is a €1.5 billion industry. It is now at significant risk together with the almost 40,000 jobs it supports.”

“The hotel and guesthouse community is committed to playing our part in improving public health. Gatherings – from weddings to funerals – are a huge part of the fabric of Irish society and family life. Over the past few months we believe we have demonstrated that we offer controlled environments where people can gather for such events safely. We are urgently asking the Government to recognise our experience and expertise and support the hosting of larger indoor gatherings as set out in the initial road map for reopening Ireland.

Commenting on the Government’s approach to overseas travel, Ms Fitzgerald Kane called for a testing regime be put in place to allow for an expansion of safe travel as soon as possible. “People who are healthy could be tested before travelling and provide verification that they do not pose a risk. Most European countries now have very effective testing in place and this would be a good starting point for such a regime. This would help open up travel in a safe way aligned with public health policy.”

Source: Published on Aug 05 2020 on hotelandcateringreview.ie

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