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Pubs in crisis and many shutting two days a week due to staff shortage following pandemic


Some pubs have closed fully for a period to let staff take annual leave. Stock image

Some pubs have closed fully for a period to let staff take annual leave. Stock image

Some pubs have closed fully for a period to let staff take annual leave. Stock image

Many pubs are shutting for two days a week after it was estimated that a third of staff have left since the “game-changer” Covid pandemic.

Groups representing pub owners will tell a Dáil committee they suffered a huge loss of chefs, managers and senior bar staff after two years of closures and restrictions had a devastating impact.

Donall O’Keeffe, the chief executive of the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA), will tell politicians foreign staff have returned home or left the licensed trade to work in retail, distribution and construction.

He said 79pc of members reported that uncertainty about the pub trade’s future was the main reasons for losing staff.

“In all, we estimate about a third of our staff have departed the sector,” he will tell the Joint Committee on Tourism, Culture, Arts, Sport and Media.

“While we are encouraged by the level of business since we reopened, it is fair to say that staff availability is now the biggest inhibiting factor to full recovery.”

Mr O’Keeffe will say the work permit scheme is “not fit for purpose” for hospitality and call for a review to boost staff numbers. He will ask which Government department or State agency is responsible for hospitality.

Paul Clancy, the CEO of the Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI), will say many pubs have closed for two days a week and are struggling to survive.

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His statement says some pubs have closed fully for a period to allow staff to take annual leave, while a lack of experienced workers will affect the quality of service as tourism begins to return this summer.

He will also tell the committee the crisis played havoc with people’s lives and careers and workers who lost their jobs “couldn’t wait around to find out when pubs would re-

Serious skills shortages have meant reduced trading hours, additional working hours, having to train young and inexperienced staff and increased wages.

“The Covid pandemic was a game-changer like no other,” he will say.

His statement says pubs closed for an initial two-week period in March 2020 but were to remain shut for almost two years.

“The breadth of the offering will suffer,” he will say. “Many outlets have chosen, out of necessity, to close for two days in the early part of the week.

“In some areas, it remains challenging to get a booking for food on these nights.”

His statement says there were 260,000 jobs in the sector before Covid, or 11pc of all employment.

“Of the 260,000 jobs, two-thirds – 175,000 – are generated in regional and rural Ireland.”

Mr Clancy will say work must be done to convince school-leavers that a viable career path exists in the sector.

His statement says the VFI has worked with State agencies to develop a bar managers degree apprenticeship, which is the first of its kind in Ireland.

“Tourism and hospitality was a vibrant sector that continues to contribute significantly to the economy and job creation,” he will tell the committee. “It has suffered a massive shock.”

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