‘This has to be the last lockdown’ – Sectors react to latest restrictions

The head of the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) has said the latest lockdown here ‘has to be the last one’.

Adrian Cummins was speaking after the Cabinet COVID-19 Sub-committee agreed that restrictions should stay in place until at least April 5th.

While schools and childcare facilities are set to start re-opening from early March.

Mr Cummins told Newstalk Breakfast that hospitality will play their part, but this has to be the last time.

“It’s been flagged already that mid-summer is when we will be re-opened – obviously our focus now is on sustaining business until that time.

“We’re advocating today to the Government about increasing the business supports: we want the bank moratorium brought in for all hospitality, because the pressure that our industry is (under) many, many businesses haven’t even opened since last March.

“This is now down to vaccine rollout – getting a number of the population vaccinated as quickly as possible so that we can re-open our economy.

“This has to be the last lockdown, we cannot go into another lockdown.

“So we will play our part with the Government, we’re engaging with both the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste at the highest level about how we can re-open hospitality in the future.”

‘Black markets’

Margaret O’Rourke-Doherty, who works in the hair and beauty industry, said controlled environments would be better than the black market.

“I suppose, to a degree, we kind of expected that we would be in this until April… the mixed message coming out with the potential closure to May has left our industry in shock and disbelief that that could potentially be possible.

“When we look at the figures and we look at the numbers, we’re an industry that has not really impacted community transfer”.

She said out of 12,111 outbreaks recorded, seven have been related to personal grooming over a period of 19 weeks last year.

“We believe that we’re definitely safer open than we are closed, we’re an extremely controlled environment.

“There’s no point in trying to hide behind it – there definitely is an element of black market services being delivered, whether that’s people in and out of homes.

“It’s an uncontrolled environment, so there’s no real clarity on what’s happening in those situations.

“At least we know when our saloons are open, our environment is controlled – we have all of the (equipment) and the safety measures in place that we worked really, really hard to maintain”.

While James Benson, director of housing at Construction Industry Federation (CIF), said housing supply will take a further hit.

“At the minute we’re working at somewhere in the region of 40% of normal operations, we’ve 35,000 workers that are completing essential projects since January… and we’ve only seen 42 cases at peak in construction during this time.

“What’s going to be critical – and I think this is important as well – not only are we looking here about what the current restrictions are going to mean, and how long they’ll last, but… if we look at non re-opening of activities up until March, we’ll have lost somewhere in the region of 8,000 homes.”

And he said potentially another 700 to 800 homes could be lost every week.

‘This has to be the last lockdown’ – Sectors react to latest restrictions

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Main image: Members of the public passing by closed and shuttered shops in Dublin city centre. Picture by: Sasko Lazarov/ RollingNews.ie