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Half of restaurants could close without speedy aid, industry warns

The Restaurants Association of Ireland is seeking rent cuts from landlords, official grants and greater flexibility from banks and utility companies.

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Half of Ireland’s restaurants could close without a Government aid package next month, the industry warned (Brian Lawless/PA)

Half of Ireland’s restaurants could close without a Government aid package next month, the industry warned (Brian Lawless/PA)

Half of Ireland’s restaurants could close without a Government aid package next month, the industry warned (Brian Lawless/PA)

Half of Ireland’s restaurants could close without a Government aid package next month, the industry has warned.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin has said his administration will unveil significant measures in July to stimulate an economy stricken by coronavirus restrictions back into life.

The Restaurants Association of Ireland is seeking rent cuts from landlords, official grants and greater flexibility from banks and utility companies.

Chief executive Adrian Cummins said: “Unless we get a July stimulus package, 50% of the restaurants will close and some have not even got to the starting line yesterday – they have closed already.”

All we are getting is tea and sympathy and asking for their full rentAdrian Cummins

Pubs and bars that serve food, restaurants and cafes were able to reopen in Ireland on Monday.

They may lift shutters provided they can observe social distancing as the Republic continues to relax its coronavirus lockdown.

A state stimulus plan was included in the coalition’s programme for government involving a new recovery fund to create increased demand and employment.

Mr Cummins’ organisation has more than 2,000 members, from restaurants to gastropubs and coffee shops.

He said eateries which would not reopen included those catering for tourists in places like West Cork or Connemara.

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Micheal Martin (right) is to unveil proposals in July (Julien Behal/PA)

Micheal Martin (right) is to unveil proposals in July (Julien Behal/PA)

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Micheal Martin (right) is to unveil proposals in July (Julien Behal/PA)

He told Dail deputies owners were facing demands for 100% of rent bills and utility payments.

“You will see a lot of businesses that will have to close their doors because the landlord is not playing ball.

“All we are getting is tea and sympathy and asking for their full rent.”

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre was on Tuesday informed that one more person with Covid-19 has died, bringing the total deaths to 1,736.

As of midnight on Monday, it had been notified of 11 more confirmed cases, bringing the total to 25,473.

The Dail’s Special Committee on the Covid-19 Response took evidence from members of the hospitality industry on Tuesday.

Mr Cummins said: “This is so serious and we need that package of measures, grant aid, temporary wage supplement scheme.

“We need some sort of burden-sharing for the landlords where everyone has to take some cut.”

He claimed utility companies were targeting the restaurant industry seeking large deposits for connections.

“Everyone needs to step up to the plate in this crisis, the banks, the landlords, the utility providers.”

He said banks had provided no assurances.

“Considering the Irish people bailed out the banks to the tune of 65 billion euro, the banks need to do a little bit more to help SMEs across the country.”

This is not something that can wait, this is not something that can be long-fingeredPadraig Cribben

The programme for government agreed between the parties said it would consider additional grants for small businesses and further direction on the state’s wage subsidy scheme.

Padraig Cribben, chief executive of the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland, said: “This is not something that can wait, this is not something that can be long-fingered.

“There is no point in coming in with something in the budget in October.

“Everything needs to be in the July stimulus so that people can see what they are facing and can plan properly.”

PA