The Outdoor Dining Enhancement Scheme should be amended to encompass all hospitality businesses, including so called ‘wet pubs’, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
Senator Cummins said: “The €17 million Outdoor Dining Enhancement Scheme was a welcome addition to the many supports introduced to help businesses cope with the challenges of Covid-19.
“This scheme allows businesses develop and increase their outdoor seating capacity, including equipment like outdoor heaters, and so it is going to be crucial in helping businesses get back on their feet this summer.
“However it is currently only available to those who serve food, which is creating a division yet again in the industry where last summer pubs that served food were allowed open and so called ‘wet pubs’ or traditional pubs as I prefer to call them remained closed. I would like to see all businesses in the hospitality industry becoming eligible to apply for an amended Outdoor Enhancement Scheme.
“Businesses in the hospitality sector have really felt the greatest impact of the pandemic. It will be fantastic to see them reopen but it’s important they can all do so at the same time, that they are eligible for the same supports and given the same opportunity to rebuild their business.
“Earlier this week the Joint Oireachtas committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage passed regulations to waive section 254 licence fees for outdoor tables and chairs outside businesses which is hugely welcome. Regulations will also be put in place to introduce an exemption for the erection of awnings, coverings and other similar apparatus associated with section 254 licences”.
“I also wish to see Minister Catherine Martin appoint a representative of the hospitality industry to the Tourism Recovery Taskforce and the boards of both Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland. It is important the hospitality industry gets to play an active role in the post pandemic recovery”, Senator Cummins concluded.