“Continued progress on the roll-out of the vaccination programme is critical” – Limerick hotelier

As the country inches towards possible normality, the West Limerick head of the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) has stressed that our Covid-19 vaccination pro-gramme is central to the reopening of society. Elaina Fitzgerald-Kane of Fitzgerald’s Woodlands House Hotel Adare, told the Weekly Observer: “Public health remains the number one priority and we recognise that continued progress on the roll-out of the vaccination programme is critical. Everyone is keen that the reopening of society is safe and sustainable and for this Level 5 lockdown to be the last.”
It’s anticipated the hotels will reopen at the start of June, and that holidaying at home will be the norm for Summer 2021. “People across the country want to look forward to staycations. Equally, the 65,000 who were employed in our sector before Covid-19 restrictions want an indication as to when their livelihoods may be restored,” said Fitzgerald-Kane.
“There is an impetus now for our sector to plan for reopening in earnest as part of the survival and recovery of the tourism community. We look forward to continuing to engage with the Govern-ment towards a safe and sustainable reopening.”
She added: “Our members have been reporting his-torically low bookings for the key summer months of July and August due to uncertainty over the timeframe for easing restrictions. Hopefully with increased confidence people will be able to enjoy a much-needed break or extended holiday in Ireland this summer and in doing so will restore the livelihoods of so many.”
Hoteliers are continuing to seek certainty over business and employment supports, along with the retention of the 9% tourism VAT rate, she added.
Meanwhile, there has been a welcome locally for the Outdoor Dining Enhance-ment Scheme, which will provide funding in Lime-rick to the tune of nearly €1 million for individual tourism and hospitality businesses to develop and increase their own outdoor seating capacity (maximum grant €4,000) and a separate €200,000 allo-cation to Limerick City and County Council to create permanent outdoor public dining spaces.
Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on Limerick’s 480 or so pubs, many of whom it’s feared will never pull a pint again. Between 2005 and 2018, the number of pubs in Limerick dropped by 25%. As a county, Limerick currently has a pub for every 550 persons.