Hoteliers have said the Government's decision to delay increasing the size of gatherings until 10 August will put further pressure on the sector, at a time when hotels and wedding venues are struggling to survive. 

The President of the Irish Hotels Federation, Elaina Fitzgerald Kane, said it will put thousands of hospitality jobs at risk.

She called for more clarity around the Phase 4 reopening, including linking the size of a gathering to the capacity of a venue. 

She said while she understands the reason for the delay to the final phase of re-opening the country, she is disappointed.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, she said "hitting the pause button" will impact those who have planned gatherings at hotels and wedding venues. 

She said around 18,000 wedding couples have had their wedding day affected due to Covid-19 so far this year and she said this announcement will mean "huge anxiety" among that group. 

Health and safety has always been the hotel sector's priority as they work in the current environment, she added. 

Ms Fitzgerald Kane said the current low capacity in hotels is good for consumers as it means there is plenty of availability around the country for those considering a staycation. 

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"As it stands only 30% of hotel rooms are booked around the country", she said, adding that at coastal properties that figure is a little higher. 

Sinn Féin's David Cullinane has highlighted the deep frustrations that many businesses will feel regarding the delays to reopening until next month.

He said businesses will need to be supported and his party will publish proposals on supporting small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Concern has also been expressed as to how the Government delivers its message that wearing masks is now mandatory in shops and indoor settings.

Labour's Duncan Smith has said the Government needs to communicate this rule effectively with guidelines and an information campaign to ensure there is compliance.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he acknowledges the delayed reopening of pubs will be a hammer blow to the sector, but pressing the pause button on the next phase or reopening is the right thing to do. 

The Taoiseach said concern around the rise in cases is very real and the advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team to delay the next phase of reopening was very strong. 

Mr Martin said he hoped the extension of the wage subsidy scheme and measures in the July stimulus package, to be announced next week, will help. 

Under the measures agreed by Cabinet, face coverings must be worn in all retail outlets and shopping centres, including by staff. 

Penalties for a breach of this rule have not yet been finalised. 

However, it is understood they will be significantly less stringent than the €2,500 fine that can be imposed for failure to comply with similar rules on public transport. 

The Government will continue to advise against all non-essential foreign travel. 

There will be an increased presence of staff at ports and airports to make incoming passengers aware of their obligations, including the need to quarantine for 14 days. 
Mr Martin said he knows that for a lot of people the delay to Phase 4 will be disappointing.