Mixed reaction to plans for reopening of businesses over Christmas

Head of hotel federation says decision not to allow intercounty travel until December 18th is shortsighted

Retail Excellence said it would work closely with  the authorities to deliver longer trading hours in an effective and safe manner. Photograph: Getty Images

Retail Excellence said it would work closely with the authorities to deliver longer trading hours in an effective and safe manner. Photograph: Getty Images

 

There has been a mixed reaction to the news of the Government’s plans for a phased reopening of businesses in the lead-up to Christmas.

Retail Excellence, whose member companies employ 280,000 people, said non-essential retail outlets which are allowed to reopen next week must be allowed to remain open. It has also said it would work closely alongside the authorities to deliver longer trading hours in an effective and safe manner.

However, hotels and guesthouses have expressed their disappointment at the revised Covid-19 restrictions.

Tim Fenn, chief executive of the Irish Hotels Federation, described the decision not to allow intercounty travel until December 18th as shortsighted. He said this delay “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 said for many hotels bookings from within their own county would account for less than 10 per cent 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.”

The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, said the news public worship could resume was welcome.

“Worship contributes to the personal wellbeing of believers. Opening will help parishes prepare for the celebration of Christmas and for Christian communities to bring hope and care to the lonely and marginalised,” he said on Twitter.

The Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Revd Dr Michael Jackson, welcomed the “opportunities” which enabled members of religious traditions to gather for worship once again from December 1st. “Gathering is important in how people of faith function. This relates both to our self-understanding and to the positive contributions we make to civil society.”

Crucial step

The Small Firms Association said the announcement was a crucial step to ensuring small non-essential retailers, hair and beauty salons and the hospitality sector were able to plan and prepare for the busy weeks ahead.

“The past nine months have been incredibly challenging for small firms, especially those in the experience economy without premises and further down the supply chain. The small business community continues to recover from months in lockdown and severe trading restrictions, and this hardship looks set to continue next year.”

The Irish Hairdressers Federation said it “very much” welcomed the news that hairdressers could reopen on Tuesday.

“It’s a great relief to all our members, customers and staff, and we’re looking forward to getting back in the salon. Our focus now is on opening safely and responsibly as per the extensive health and safety guidelines we developed earlier this year.’’