Continuing closure of the hospitality sector can’t be blamed on the weatherman

Imagine if the weather had been poor in June

If the sunshine and warmth gives way to lashing rain and a cold breeze, expect the hospitality industry’s anger over the duration and extent of virus restrictions to boil over.  Photograph: iStock

If the sunshine and warmth gives way to lashing rain and a cold breeze, expect the hospitality industry’s anger over the duration and extent of virus restrictions to boil over. Photograph: iStock

 

If anyone in Government owns a Child of Prague religious statue, they had better go outside and place it under one of the hedges at the back of Leinster House. The ritual is associated with pleas to above for good weather, and sunshine is one of the few things keeping a lid on the hospitality industry’s anger.

Since bars and restaurants were allowed to reopen for outdoor dining on June 7th, the sun, uncharacteristically for this sodden island, has shone almost continuously. The good weather has allowed many bars and restaurants to capitalise on the pent-up demand from consumers.

Footpaths, laneways and patios outside many premises have been filled with diners and drinkers in recent weeks. It has relieved some of the pressure that built up during lockdown, while the mini-boom has also given those businesses geographically lucky enough to facilitate outdoor trading a huge boost. Without it many would be effectively closed as indoor trade remains banned.

The fact that the industry’s current ability to operate day-to-day depends on Irish weather could also be seen as a metaphor for the uncertainty of its economic prospects. It is a hoary cliché, but businesses need certainty. We have had a pleasant June, but certainty is not something that is generally associated with Irish weather at any time of year.

If the sunshine and warmth gives way to lashing rain and a cold breeze, expect the hospitality industry’s anger over the duration and extent of virus restrictions to boil over.

It is understandable that public health officials would want to take a cautious approach to reopening indoor dining as planned on July 5th, in the face of the rise of the fast-spreading Delta variant. But that does not mean that such caution is proportionate. Public health officials are cautious by nature. Governments and those who decide policy, rather than advice on it, should take a more rounded view.

Unless clear evidence is produced that shows a spike in illness and hospitalisations due to Delta variant, then rising case numbers should not matter much. Such evidence has not yet emerged in the UK, for example. Without it the hospitality industry won’t accept another delay on reopening.

It is hard not to feel sympathy for businesses whose only hope to trade on any given day lies in looking out the window to check if it is raining.

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