Rural Restaurants Losing Faith in Covid Times

As we head into a new year our industry is now facing one of the toughest periods we will ever face. Between closing and opening along with job losses and trying to retain staff etc the next few years will have devastating effects and they will be long lasting on us all.

While Im always one to look at the glass half full, unfortunately I’m losing faith fast. We, as an industry, have no control of what’s ahead. We have all heard the rumours of the possibility that we will actually be closed well into April etc.

I fully believe it could be into June or July before we see any green lights, that’s provided we get things right . Publicans may not open at all this year; obviously no one from government will say this but it’s the reality that they may face.

We and many more people in industry deserve more from this government and must contact all our local representatives and ask them realistic questions. Business supports must increase for restaurants & hospitality, including the doubling of the CRSS & inclusion of all businesses within the hospitality industry for their survival. The RAI are doing their utmost to help our industry, it’s now time we all rowed in behind them.

But until this government changes tactics we are well and truly on course for disaster including lockdown after lockdown. We must remember we are one of the most restrictive countrys in Europe when it comes to lockdowns and now a country with one of the highest amounts with Covid.

The hard questions must be asked as to why this is happening. Obviously things are not working correctly at all. In fact we are doing them very wrong and this is what we will continue to face until hard measures are put in place.

Billions are spent every year on our health system yet we still only have 350 ICU beds, so that equals 1 bed for every 14 thousand people –  stark but true. For a country of our wealth & size this is truly scary and very wrong indeed. It also means that it puts a huge strain on every frontline staff member working within the system to save lives. Look at our vaccination roll out; of the 5 million population about 3.5 million will want to be vaccinated. Half of these will need 2 doses. So we need 5.25m vaccines. So If we were to get rid of COVID in 2021 we need to vaccinate 100,000 people a week

The official figures which were updated on Thursday 14th of January show that 120 thousand people have been vaccinated with a first dose.

At this rate we have to be brutally honest – we really have no chance of getting out of Covid this year.

So yes, we are staring in the face of probably 2 more years of rolling lockdowns and many more shocking and unnecessary deaths.  You could argue the vaccine supply is a big challenge but the programme is going too slow and that’s the major real issue. It has to baffle you why vaccination figures are not being provided, and guess what? There is no official data published on the Covid-19 data hub. Why?

Yet we get bombarded with daily case numbers, deaths and admissions to hospitals and ICUs, while we hear that new strains are emerging. But again, surprisingly, we are never told the number of people in each priority group that have been vaccinated, no facts and figures here.

No breakdown on a county per county spread out of the vaccination or any relevant data.

But if we look at the the other side, we have all the horrible information at our fingertips. This is because the government are only drip feeding us information and only telling us what they want us to hear. This is not right! We the general public want to know and need to know what exactly is going on. Forget “sure isn’t it grand we are doing our best”. It’s not just people’s lives that are being destroyed – our mental health is being dramatically impacted and the most vulnerable are walking a very thin line. All of our children lives are being changed and turned upside down and this is wrong.

According to a Irish Medical Journal, eating disorders increased by 66% last year during the crisis . With isolation and loneliness, anxiety and mental health, family and relationship issues, along with financial worries suicide numbers have increased dramatically.

This will be likely to continue until we get a hold on things and the government take stock and get a proper control of what is going on . With all of these challenges this country faces we need to adopt a greater sense of urgency. We know it’s not working. Fix it now.

There are new variants coming into this country every day but In the middle of last summer NPHET told Government to completely ban non-essential travel from all countries with high Covid19 figures. Was this implemented? No. Did they listen? No. Instead we still have our borders open and people can fly into the north and travel across the border and into Ireland.
In the past five weeks up to the middle of January 3,000 people from Brazil and South Africa came into the State plus 37,000 from the UK.

Did anyone from the government tell us these stats and figures?

Until we shut this down we are fighting a losing battle. The stark reality is we will see more deaths, more pressure on our health system and longer lockdowns. Our economy will not bounce back while this continues, it really doesn’t stand a chance.
It seems like the government will wait to see what others do and then follow like sheep. Until our government get control of this situation, lives, businesses and health will continue to be destroyed, numbers of mortality will rise and we will lose loved ones daily. This a legacy no one wants. It’s time for a change in direction for the good of the Irish people and our resilient nation. 

WRITTEN BY ANTHONY GRAY 
Restauranteur Sligo 

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