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'There will be considerable lay-offs' - pub owner Louis

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Louis Fitzgerald

Louis Fitzgerald

Louis Fitzgerald

Pubs boss Louis Fitzgerald said the future of the hospital- ity sector is bleak as he revealed a "considerable" number of staff will be laid off at his venues from next week.

The Louis Fitzgerald Group, which operates more than a dozen pubs and two hotels, is one of the biggest privately- owned hospitality groups in Ireland.

Mr Fitzgerald said the lay-offs will predominantly be in Dublin, where so-called wet pubs have remained closed for 200 days.

The Tipperary businessman owns some of the capital's biggest landmark bars including Kehoe's, The Stag's Head and The Quays.

Speaking to the Herald, he said the company will be reviewing staff levels next week.

"The pub sector is in turmoil," he said.

"There will be a considerable amount of lay-offs from next week. Six months ago, we thought things would start to return to normal soon, but the reality is we're further away than ever."

Pre-Covid, the group employed nearly 1,000 people.

"We haven't been given a chance to prove ourselves to the Government," Mr Fitzgerald said.

"By closing the hospitality sector, all you're doing is promoting house parties. Pubs are the most regulated industry in the country.

"If a train station was being given the same signals as the pubs have been, there'd be crashes all over the country. There's a lot of inconsistencies out there.

"I don't understand why you can only have 15 people outdoors if you have a large terrace which could safely accommodate more."

He said the imminent threat of lockdowns makes it impossible to manage food and drink stock.

Shocked

"It doesn't look like there's a good future ahead. Temple Bar is in a bad state, I was shocked when I walked through," he said.

"The number of homeless people there is also very worrying and sad to see. Something needs to be done."

The Chawke Pub Group, which has nine gastro pubs including Searsons on Baggot Street, confirmed it is to lay off up to 300 staff.

The Licensed Vintners' Association estimated 90pc of jobs in the pub sector in the capital are gone.

Indoor dining is currently banned in Dublin due to the latest Covid-19 restrictions after a surge in cases in the capital.