Reopening reaction: Director Shane Mclave on what the government’s guidelines mean for hospitality

Excel’s Director Shane Mclave gives his thoughts on the recent government guidelines ( and their ongoing updates) for the hospitality industry’s re-opening and what more needs to be done to support the industry.

The much-awaited guidelines for hospitality businesses reopening arrived last week, with further developments since and more expected to come. All have been met with a very mixed reaction. Some of these guidelines absolutely make sense in terms of keeping everyone safe, while some of them seem plucked out of thin air and do no more than hinder hospitality businesses trying to return to profitability. Under the latest guidelines, patrons are given a 105 minute limit on the time they can spend in a pub or restaurant. But why? This seems to be an arbitrary number plucked out of thin air, with no real basis in science from what anyone can tell. Another concerning guideline for wedding venues and hotels is the onus being placed on staff to maintain social distancing at all times, including on dancefloors. How can anyone expect this to work in real-life without placing an increased workload on staff or potentially jeopardising guest experience? One of the biggest questions for businesses of all sizes, from intimate restaurants to large hotels and contract caterers is in what world can chefs maintain a 2m distance in a busy kitchen during service?

Uncertainty for hospitality industry

According to latest updates The 2m social distancing guideline but this can be reduced to 1metre* in controlled environments . But what does this mean? Many who have already spent time mapping out 2m within their premises and have spent money on signage displaying a 2m distance. There are major differences in readying a space for 2m and readying the same space for 1m. With a little over a week to go until June 29th, businesses nationwide are right now doing the trojan work of figuring out what the recent government guidelines mean for them and applying the necessary changes to their premises while coping with unclear and rapidly changing guidance. While everyone is happy to be opening sooner than August as originally scheduled and hopefully salvaging some of the summer season, the one thing the government’s original 5 phase plan did give was certainty. We’re all aware that COVID-19 and the fight against it are constantly evolving but is it fair to ask individual businesses to bear the brunt of this uncertainty alone?

There needs to be a recognition that these recent government guidelines cost time and money to implement and enforce and businesses need to be given the supports to do so. There needs be further recognition that many venues won’t be able to operate under them; through absolutely no fault of their own. Many high-end restaurants and pubs whose USP is their cosy and intimate atmosphere and reversely, many events venues whose business model is large crowds will have to hold off until the virus is further suppressed.

Long term supports

Again, while an earlier opening date is most definitely a positive news story; more sustainable, long term supports will be needed. Many tangible suggestions have been proposed by the Restaurants Association of Ireland including 0% VAT rate for the tourism & hospitality industries for the period of the crisis & an entire year afterwards, then reverting to a 9% rate for a period of 5 years after along with relief on rates or rent for the rest of the year. It cannot be a case of “now you’re open, you’re on your own.” Everyone has been on the same side of closing to ensure public safety, that cannot swivel to the government and hospitality industry being on opposite sides when it comes to getting the country back running. One of the things that lockdown has shown is the resilience, creativity and desire to succeed of the hospitality industry in adapting to challenges in the market. That in itself is reason to be positive. Best of luck to all our clients and businesses reopening in the coming weeks and congratulations on all your efforts.



A thought to Covid-19 and healthcare recruitment

Covid-19 has had a profound effect on all our lives over the past few months. As we move through the phases of exiting lockdown, our attention is focusing more and more on the long-term effects the pandemic will leave behind. One thing I do hope for is that the outpouring of public appreciation and respect for our country’s frontline healthcare staff will not be forgotten quickly.

Global awareness

Through social media, health workers have collaborated across the board on a scale never seen before. Unfortunately, this was often about sourcing desperately needed supplies of ventilators and personal protective equipment for staff. We are all used to hearing about the trolley crisis and staff shortages, but this allowed us, the general public, to see the human faces behind the problems in a way we never had before. We were also introduced to many of the others who form the backbone of our health service from household staff to direct care workers.

Professor Arnie Hill of the Royal College of Surgeons raised the idea that our recent insight and exposure to the industry has greatly expanded people’s interest in healthcare as a career path. Health has moved to the forefront of global consciousness, with Tony Holohon and Tadhg Daly becoming household names and terms such as basic reproduction rate becoming part of our everyday vocabulary. Is it a reasonable assumption that we will see a greater interest in health-related courses over the coming years?

Next generation of student nurses

The last couple of months have been particularly challenging for our students especially those who had been due to sit the Leaving Cert. They were one of the groups most affected by the virus with the lack of clarity for months before the final decision to use predicted grades. H-Pat applications were of course closed in January before Covid came to prominence however nursing and other medical fields may see an uptake in demand for September. The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation renewed its calls for extra undergraduate nursing places to avoid even more severe staffing pressures in the future. The INMO has also said it is likely there will be a drop in overseas recruitment because of the coronavirus pandemic resulting in extra pressures on nurses and midwives in the years ahead.

April’s announcement that fourth-year nursing students who are currently working as interns in hospitals are set to move onto the HCA pay scale was most welcome. Many observers believe the pay cuts which had been implemented in various formats since 2009 had contributed to the surge in nurses qualifying and moving abroad and to the difficulty in recruiting nurses to work in Ireland. This has in-turn contributed to understaffing and overcrowding in our hospitals and pressure on our nursing homes.

Home carers

As we celebrate National Carers Week from June 8th, it is both sobering and inspiring to hear the tales and struggles of Ireland’s home and family carers who are notable frontline healthcare staff. It emphasizes the depth, breadth and diversity of roles which make up our “healthcare frontline”. With an expected increase in investment in healthcare globally over the next few years, it seems that it will become ever more challenging for the state and private employers to attract and retain the right people.

Brian Nixon leads the permanent recruitment division of Excel Healthcare and specializes in the recruitment of Nurses and other senior roles within healthcare. To discuss recruitment and how we can help, please call 018717676 or email