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DublinTown Businesses Raise Concerns Over Proposals Being Considered By Government and Requests Clarification

  • Clyde Carroll
  • Fri 18 September, 2020

Media Release
18th September 2020

DublinTown Businesses Raise Concerns Over Proposals Being Considered By Government and Requests Clarification

What evidence is there of virus transmission in city centre hospitality businesses?

DublinTown is aware of advice provided by NPHET and currently being considered by Government.  This would see Dublin’s hospitality businesses being curtailed beyond the Level 3 measures contained in the Government’s revised framework for Living with Covid, which were announced on Tuesday of this week.  If adopted by Government, the advice would see establishments being prohibited from accommodating patrons inside their premises.

A number of concerns and requests for clarification arise:

  • What evidence is there of virus transmission within these premises? Patrons provide contact details on entry to these establishments.  We would therefore, expect that outbreaks would be known if there were occurring.
  • Restaurants, cafes and bars form a hugely significant and growing proportion of the city’s consumer facing eco system. Pre-covid more people dined than shopped in the city.  Hospitality businesses employed 10,000 people in the DublinTown area alone in 2019.  However, these businesses which were closed for 3 months and re-opened to a turnover which trended at between 25% and 40% of 2019 levels.  If the restrictions proposed are imposed, it is likely that many businesses will not survive until the Christmas period.  Their demise will have implications for other consumer facing businesses within the city centre.  Retail was challenged pre-Covid and Brexit will provide further difficulties from January 2021.  Customers visiting Dublin city centre were increasingly likely to both shop and socialise.  The absence of hospitality businesses will make retailers more vulnerable.
  • Where vacancy levels reach 25% or more (i.e. one in four units are closed, the district becomes increasingly unattractive, and prone to misuse.) we only have to look to the O’ Connell Street experience to understand the potential long term implications of such a scenario.That street has struggled since the 1970’s and it will take very significant private sector investments to recreate the position that the street once held.
  • Property owners have advised that there is no long queues of potential new entrants waiting to take space in the city that may become available.
  • The demise of the city centre would have implications for tourism, (three in five visitors to Ireland, will visit Dublin city centre) and Foreign Direct Investment which relies on a vibrant and thriving city centre to attract quality employers and employees.

DublinTown, nor its members have any wish to put visitors to the city at risk.  City centre businesses have gone to great lengths to provide a safe and controlled environment for their customers and staff.  If there is evidence to the contrary this will be studied and enhancements made.  However, the evidence is that virus transmission is centred on residential settings.  There are lessons that we can all learn from the business environment and apply to our homes, in relation to mask wearing, sanitation, personal hygiene and social distancing.

We are all in this together.  This fact remains.  We all have obligations to ourselves, our families our colleagues and our fellow citizens.  We need to understand how the virus is transmitted and the precautions required to limit its spread.  As a society we have taken the decision to live with the virus.  This means facilitating safe and controlled social engagement and the maintenance of a functioning society and economy.  We need clear, coherent and consistent communications from Government and its agencies so the public can have confidence in what they are being advised to do.  This required discipline was evident during the lockdown and was very evident in Dublin city centre as the restrictions were gradually lifted from 8th June.  We need to rebuild this social cohesion to ensure that we can re-emerge from the Covid crisis to a society where opportunity and hope prevail.  This will require an understanding of all relevant issues and sustained engagement with all stakeholders.

DublinTown and its business members are calling on the Government to consider the long term impacts of their decisions and share the evidence required to make such a decisions.