Proposed 5pm curfew would be ‘devastating’ for hospitality sector

Publicans and restaurateurs dismayed by possiblity of Nphet recommeding early closure

The hospitality industry has reacted with fury to reports that the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) has recommended pubs and restaurants should shut at 5pm over the Christmas period.

It is understood Nphet has recommended the early closure in a letter sent to Government on Thursday evening.

The Vintners Federation of Ireland, which represents rural publicans, said any proposal to close hospitality early during the Christmas period would be “devastating if this happens. Don’t think there are any words left for what Nphet is doing to the hospitality sector.”

The Licensed Vintners Association, which represents Dublin publicans, tweeted that Nphet’s proposals was to “completely shut down hospitality without telling me you really want to shut down hospitality”.

Restaurant Association of Ireland chief executive Adrian Cummins said a proposal for a 5pm closure of hospitality amounts to "a lockdown of the sector".

Mr Cummins said his association had long advocated a plan for living with Covid-19. “No other European country is implementing such a draconian measure,” he said.

Well-known hotelier Paul Gallagher, who runs Buswells Hotel next to the Dáil, said they had already lost €40,000 in business during December.

“It’s depressing to see my business collapse for the second year in a row. Not sure how much more of this we can take collectively. Realism is needed,” he said.

Mark O'Brien, the executive director of the Abbey Theatre, tweeted: "We have just managed to reconfigure as an industry to 50 per cent in a highly regulated and safe environment, More change now would be catastrophic, unwarranted."

Sligo-Leitrim TD Marc MacSharry, who has been a persistent critic of Government policy in relation to restrictions described the proposed Nphet restrictions as “bananas”.

He tweeted: “Who runs this country? Look at HPSC data. Bananas. The spread is in households, schools and residential settings. Managed settings – ie play centres bowling alleys cafes bars and restaurants should be encouraged over private homes.”