Hoteliers call for indoor dining and lifting of travel limits

Hotels can provide ‘safe’ and ‘controlled’ environments this Christmas, says IHF

The Irish Hotels Federation says the controlled environment of hotels can help to minimise the number and extent of social gatherings in home settings, thereby significantly reducing the risk this Christmas. Photograph: iStock

The Irish Hotels Federation says the controlled environment of hotels can help to minimise the number and extent of social gatherings in home settings, thereby significantly reducing the risk this Christmas. Photograph: iStock

 

Hoteliers are calling on the Government to allow people to travel outside their county and to permit indoor dining in hotels, including for non-residents, this December.

Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) president Elaina Fitzgerald Kane said hotels could provide “very safe, highly controlled, spacious environments” for people during the festive season, with the industry having put in place “extensive measures” to minimise the risk of Covid-19.

“It is clear that Christmas will be very different this year. Nonetheless there is still an expectation that people will be able to travel to family outside their county, and hotels can be an important part of the infrastructure in facilitating this safely,” Ms Fitzgerald Kane said.

“We are urging the Government to recognise the important role hotels can play as part of the solution for a safer Christmas.”

The IHF president quoted a figure from the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre suggesting hotels had been associated with just 0.14 per cent of Covid-19 clusters since March.

“By allowing indoor dining, including for non-residents, the Government can provide a safer option this year. The controlled environment of hotels can help to minimise the number and extent of social gatherings in home settings, thereby significantly reducing the risk this Christmas,” Ms Fitzgerald Kane added.

Seeking notice

The IHF is also seeking at least seven days’ notice of the revised restrictions for December so its members can plan effectively.

“There are five key weeks of trading available to hotels when they reopen at the start of December so it is vital that hotels can operate as fully as possible while obviously staying within the restrictions. This trading period can act as a life buoy in terms of sustaining the early few months of the year,” she said.

“With two weeks of preparatory time remaining, and the necessity for reasonable lead-in times after such a long closure period, realistic advance notice is crucial.”

Hotel revenues were already down by 80 per cent in 2020 before the implementation of Level 5 restrictions nationwide.

“There is a real sense within the sector that hotels are being disproportionately affected despite our commitment and proven track record in safeguarding public health.”