A Donegal hotel has apologised after offering up its rooms on a short-term basis for €2 per person to exploit a loophole in COVID guidelines.
Donegal has been on Level Three restrictions since yesterday, with restaurants, pubs and cafes closed – except for delivery, takeaway and outdoor dining.
The guidelines allow hotel residents to dine indoors and yesterday the Beach Hotel in Downings offered up its rooms for an “allotted time” to allow people to dine as ‘residents.’
In a statement today, management apologised for “any unintentional offence caused” and said it will close until further notice tomorrow.
A Donegal hotel is offering rooms to locals who want to eat inside. Book a room for €2 and you can get around the outdoor dining restriction in Level 3. pic.twitter.com/d9ex5ApCk1
— Ben Finnegan (@_BenFinnegan) September 26, 2020
The President of the Irish Hotels Federation, Elaine Fitzgerald Kane, said she can see why people were upset:
“The fact that they have apologised for the offence caused kind of tells its own story in terms of the optics of behaving in a particular way,” she said.
“At the end of the day, as President of the Irish Hotels Federation, it is really, really important to me that all hotels and guesthouses uphold all aspects of the guidelines.”
— Ben Finnegan (@_BenFinnegan) September 27, 2020
The Beach Hotel said the offer was “based on our interpretation” of Government guidelines.
“It was merely a method to allow customers to become residents for a maximum period of one hour and 45 minutes in line with Government regulations, so they could avail of our dining and beverage services indoors,” it said.
It said it launched the offer in a bid to recoup its costs for the stock it had already ordered.
“It also allowed us to keep our staff employed and we believe this has highlighted the current stress facing the hospitality industry at present across Ireland,” it said.
“While it was never our intention to cause offence, we, like the other hotels, bars and restaurants in Donegal were left in an impossible position.
“We were told by Government that we could stay open but then told to operate under such strict conditions, whereby it was not feasible to keep our doors open.”
It said it wanted to take the opportunity to highlight the challenges the Government’s reopening roadmap poses for the industry.
It said it will close form Monday until further notice and will donate all remaining stock to local charities.