As many as 33,000 of Dublin’s drinks and hospitality jobs are at risk as the capital moves to level three lockdown.

As Dublin embarks on its three-week lockdown, new figures have emerged suggesting that as many as 33,000 of the capital’s accommodation and food service jobs, which include jobs in drinks and hospitality businesses like pubs, hotels, and restaurants, could be lost by the end of the year without additional supports from government.

The report, commissioned by the Drinks Industry Group of Ireland (DIGI) and carried out by DCU Business School economist Anthony Foley, shows that the 15-24 age group, which comprises nearly a third of all accommodation and food service employment in Dublin, is particularly exposed and could suffer 10,600 job losses before the end of 2020.

Without support from the government, the report suggests that as many as 63 per cent (pc) of all accommodation and food services jobs in Ireland, 114,000 in total, could be lost by year’s end.

“If the 2008 crash showed us anything, it’s that what we lose now cannot be simply reconstructed next year”

More than seven per cent (pc) of all national employment is in accommodation and food services, with 32pc of all workers are in the 15-24 age group.

Grave consequences

“Dublin’s lockdown, and further restrictions on restaurants and pubs serving food, will have grave material consequences for thousands of livelihoods, hundreds of businesses and local communities, and Ireland’s long-term economic prospects,” said Liam Reid, chair of DIGI.

“Every drinks and hospitality business owner in Dublin and across the country realises the public health risks associated with Covid. They have supported the longest hospitality lockdown in Europe and where they have been able to open, they have taken steps to ensure their staff and customers are safe, and that their premises are controlled environments, and invested tens of thousands of euros doing so.

“If the 2008 crash showed us anything, it’s that what we lose now cannot be simply reconstructed next year. If businesses cannot operate, jobs will go. This is a highly precarious industry, and every week of closure counts. The long-term risk is enormous, and a specific package of support measures is urgently required.”

Knock-on effect

Dublin’s level three lockdown will have a knock-on effect on the drinks and hospitality sector across the rest of Ireland as domestic tourists from the capital cancel their bookings in regional hotels, restaurants, and pubs.

In the South-East region (Carlow, Kilkenny, Waterford, Wexford), accommodation and food service jobs make up 8.5pc of all employment.

“The long-term risk is enormous, and a specific package of support measures is urgently required”

In Donegal, accommodation and food service employment is nearly 8pc of all county employment, and in Kerry the figure is as high as 10.5pc.

“These jobs matter. For many, the drinks and hospitality sector is a lifelong career. For others, like students, carers, homemakers and older people, the industry provides an invaluable degree of flexibility, allowing them to earn money part-time while still carrying out other duties and responsibilities,” added Mr Reid.

“For all, drinks and hospitality businesses are one of the few sectors in their locality where actual employment opportunities exist, the business where they first start to develop skills and qualities that stand to them forever. If these businesses close for good, many villages and towns will be left with little to no employment opportunities.”

“We have to focus on recovery, which means making it as easy as possible to actually do business within Covid guidelines”

DIGI is calling on the government to intervene to aid the drinks and hospitality industry by removing barriers to business and deliver a comprehensive and coordinated set of measures over the coming period to support their recovery.

“Reopening these businesses is not enough,” he continued. “We have to focus on recovery, which means making it as easy as possible to actually do business within Covid guidelines. Ireland’s pubs, hotels, restaurants and wider drinks and hospitality industry needs practical financial supports this year. As this report shows, intervention in 2021 will be too late and jobs will be lost.

“Ireland’s excise taxes are the second highest in Europe and will act as a further barrier to recovery. As part of a broad package of measures we are calling on the government to deliver a 15pc reduction in excise tax on drinks to support the industry and minimise the risk of job losses. More money back in the business owner’s pocket means more money can be directly invested in keeping their doors open and saving their staff from unemployment,” he finished.

By Stephen Larkin

Published: 22 September, 2020

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