The chief executive of the employers’ group Ibec has warned that a lack of clarity on plans for a further reopening of the economy could materially impact the economic recovery.
Danny McCoy also called for certainty for the hospitality sector and the broader business community.
“We are very concerned for the many businesses and people working in the Experience Economy, especially those most impacted by the decision not to go ahead with the next phase of planned reopening due to start on 5 July,” he said.
“We support the restaurants and vintners’ associations who have been placed in an impossible position by the lateness in the decision and the lack of clarity within it.”
On Tuesday the Government said the reopening of indoor dining and drinking was to be postponed, amid concern about the threat posed by the Covid-19 Delta variant.
Pubs and restaurants were due to be allowed to let customers back inside their premises this Monday.
“We all need certainty on a reopening plan as quickly as possible and additional financial support for the extra costs that the mishandling of events in the past week has caused,” Mr McCoy said.
He added that while the Government’s “disappointing” decisions directly impacted hospitality firms, they have also had a wider effect on the business community and the stability of Ireland’s economy.
“Confidence amongst consumers and businesses generally in the Government’s wider reopening plan has been damaged. This could materially impact Ireland’s economic recovery,” Mr McCoy warned.
The Government met yesterday with representatives of the hospitality community to try to chart a way forward for the reopening of the remaining sectors that are still closed.
It has proposed the introduction of a digital vaccination cert or “corona pass” that could be used to allow vaccinated customers indoors again, but the sector is opposed to such a move.
“Much greater certainty and information is needed for all businesses on the Government’s modelling data, timelines and milestones for the revised vaccine rollout, the use of antigen testing, and the GDPR issues for employers generally on requesting and holding information in relation to vaccination status,” Danny McCoy said.
“The Government must improve its communications to business. The events of this week clearly illustrate that a more effective stakeholder engagement model is badly required.”
Speaking on RTÉ’s Drivetime, Mr McCoy was critical of what he called “the delay” in implementing antigen testing.
“It’s scandalous at this stage when the chief science officer was given a task by the Government and came back very strongly for the use of antigen testing,” he said.