June 8, 2020 / 6:06 PM / a month ago

One third of Irish hospitality jobs hinge on distancing rules - report

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland’s tourism and hospitality sector will be able to rehire more than twice as many workers if social-distancing guidance is cut to 1 metre from 2 metres, research by the national tourism development authority found on Monday.

Ireland is accelerating the cautious unwinding of its coronavirus lockdown with restaurants and hotels set to reopen on June 29 and pubs on June 20 with a pledge to review the social-distancing guidance.

Failte Ireland, the tourism authority, estimated 148,300 of the 260,000 workers in jobs supported by the hospitality sector before the lockdown would return if customers can be kept 1 metre apart, dropping to 63,200 if the 2 metre guidance remains.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has suggested a possible halving of the distance if coronavirus cases drop further. Health officials are developing specific guidance on the application of the rule for the hospitality sector during periods of low incidence of the disease.

Health Minister Simon Harris said on Monday the additional guidance will be finalised in the next week or two.

Ireland reported just nine new cases on Monday, the lowest daily tally since March 11, the day before it decided to close schools ahead of a full shutdown at the end of March.

A total of 1,683 people have died from just over 25,000 cases of COVID-19 in Ireland.

Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Editing by Janet Lawrence

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