The Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) has said 120,000 jobs in the sector could be lost permanently in the coming two months if action is not taken to help it.

The organisation has put forward a nine-point Covid-19 Crisis Recovery Plan focusing on issues such as VAT reduction, rent measures and wage supports which it says will help save and recover the industry.

"Our plan which is the only viable solution for restaurants is on the desks of ministers and departments," Adrian Cummins, CEO of the RAI, said.

"We are seeking urgent action to save and recover our industry as nine out of ten restaurants face permanent closure in the months ahead without urgent action."

The RAI says around 90% of restaurant here are currently closed.

It says that after listening to its 3,000-strong membership, it has devised a recovery plan which has been communicated to the Government, TDs, Senators and tourism leaders.

It has also been engaging at a European level with other members of the umbrella organisation for hotels, restaurants and cafes across the continent, Hospitality Europe.

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The plan includes a call for a 0% rate of VAT for the duration of the crisis and the year after it, followed by a 9% rate for the next five years.

It wants banks to waive fees until a vaccine is found, as well as a moratorium on existing loan repayments and the application of ECB rates on loans.

On insurance, it wants pay-outs assured for restaurants that have business interruption cover, along with forbearance and a guarantee that cover will not be suspended while firms are closed.

In relation to rents, the RAI plan calls for new laws to protect commercial lease holders and an assurance that mortgage holidays would be passed through to lease holders by landlords.

This could also involve the Government supplementing rent payments for a period.

Regarding wages, the sector is seeking continued supports until a vaccine is found.

It is also seeking grants from Government to help firms with liquidity over the six months after they resume opening.

The RAI also wants a ban on utility companies cutting off services and seeking payments when restaurants are closed.

On the issue of rates, the plan envisages a write-off for restaurants and hospitality firms until a vaccine is found.

In order to encourage social distancing, the industry wants licenses for outdoor tables and chairs waived for a year.

Meanwhile, another group of restaurateurs have launched a separate 'Save Our Restaurants' campaign.

Backed by firms such as Camile Thai Kitchen, Chapter One, Insomnia, Brambles Group, chef Dylan McGrath and Press Up Group, it says its aim is to get employees back to work, get the close base of viable restaurants in line with actual sales and re-engage the public.

It says most help should go to those that need it most with direct Government grants rather than bank debt on offer where applicable. 

It seeks to allow viable restaurants to survive for two years or until a vaccine is widely distributed.

The group has outlined a three-point step down plan, which includes getting labour costs down through the continuation of a graduated Government wage subsidy scheme.

It also wants action on occupancy costs such as rent, rates, insurance and utilities, with the Government providing graduated grants depending on how below normal turnover is.

While on debt, the group want lenders to agree to reschedule repayments for two years following the lockdown where businesses cannot meet their obligations but where loans are performing.

It is also seeking a corporation tax rebate for 2019, deferral of VAT and four weeks clear notice before the lockdown rules are relaxed for restaurants.