THE decision to restrict hospitality opening hours ahead of Christmas has brought about immense “heartbreak” and “mental anguish” among staff in that sector.
That’s according to local Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) representative Paul Flannery, who has also warned the move to order pubs to close by 8pm from Monday will lead to a number of other related issues, including anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse.
In a series of measures designed to slow the spread of the new Omicron variant, An Taoiseach Micheál Martin has also announced that events held indoors should not take place after 8pm. Events earlier should limit attendance to 50% of capacity, while attendance at all outdoor events is capped at 5,000 people.
This will impact Munster Rugby, which have already announced ticket measures for its games against Leinster, Wasps and Ulster. The province's match tonight is unaffected, since the new measures only come in on Monday.
Mr Flannery said: “It's heartbreaking, it's gutting, they've effectively closed so many businesses without saying the words we're closing ye. People are working until 5pm or 6pm. Are they going to rush home to rush in to get thrown out of a restaurant at 8pm? No they are not.”
Like other publicans, the Shannon Street businessman is facing having to cut the hours of his workforce yet again.
“The mental anguish of staff is indescribable. Will they have a job? The whole stop-start. I know we are in the middle of a health pandemic, but I really hope the government can take a step back and look at the bigger picture. This is going to be around a long time. What are the government doing about the hospitals and the HSE to get infrastructure in place, so we can live with Covid going forward,” he asked.
And he added the new restrictions will drive people “underground” in terms of drinking at home.
Speaking on RTE News in the wake of the announcement, former Munster wing Barry Murphy, who now plays in Hermitage Green said: “A packed Thomond Park over Christmas is always an incredible day out. I don't know how you can tell 20,000 people they can't go. A lot of people have planned their entire Christmas break around that. To have this a week out, it's tough.”
He also urged government to up its funding for those impacted through their jobs being lost.
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