Businesses in the tourism and hospitality sectors have reacted with concern to the news that the country is to move to Level 3 Covid-19 restrictions.

The Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) warned the move would mean over 180,000 jobs would go across restaurants, cafés and hospitality businesses this week.

It said the announcement would cause an economic meltdown for the sector.

"Putting Ireland's entire restaurant/hospitality industry on Level 3 restrictions is utterly disproportionate, devastating for workers and business owners, plus lacking in evidence based rationale," said Adrian Cummins.

He said since the end of June the sector has implemented all the guidelines and regulations required to protect staff and customers from the virus.

The RAI’s position was echoed by the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF), which said the restrictions will have a devastating impact on hotels across the country.

The IHF said hotel business levels are already at rock bottom and are threatening viability.

"The communications chaos we witnessed today is doing untold harm to our economy," said Elaina Fitzgerald Kane, President of the IHF.

"There are fundamental issues around the Government’s response to Covid-19 and the impact of the crisis on wider society and the economy. 

Engagement with sectors such as tourism and hospitality has been severely lacking, resulting in an enormous level of unnecessary confusion and uncertainty."

"This is jeopardising essential parts of the economy and the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people throughout the country."

Publicans said the Government decision will see 50,000 bar staff lose their jobs.

The Vintners Federation of Ireland (VFI) said there is now an urgent need for Government to announce immediate additional support for the pub trade including a substantial increase in the Restart Grant.

"There now must be an immediate return to the original Pandemic Unemployment Payment for pub staff along with liquidity supports that will allow our members re-establish their businesses once restrictions are removed," said Padraig Cribben, VFI Chief Executive.

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However, retailers said they were breathing a sigh of relief at the decision not to move the country to Level 5.

"It's important that the health of our economy was taken into consideration as moving to Level 5 restrictions with only 11 weeks left until Christmas would have been devastating to the industry," said Duncan Graham, Managing Director of Retail Excellence Ireland (REI).

"This is the most important period of the year for retailers for turnover and profit."

REI said many retailers are currently trading between 40% to 70% of last year’s turnover and further restrictions would be the final nail in the coffin for many. 

Earlier, Ibec described the communications coming from the National Public Health Emergency Team as irresponsible.

"The mandate of NPHET is to advise Government. It is one step in the process for Government to assess a proportionate and whole of society response to the pandemic," said Danny McCoy, Ibec CEO.

"At this stage in the Covid crisis, it is gravely dysfunctional that NPHET communications continue to be leaked into the public domain, substantially undermining the necessary political oversights and assessments that are built into the Living with Covid framework."