Covid-19 Information & Advice for VFI Members

        Updated: 6th August 2021 

Updated:  June 2021 

Pandemic Unemployment Payment

On 1 June, the Government announced that the PUP will continue to be paid after 30 June 2021 with a gradual reduction in rates starting on 7 September 2021. The scheme will close to new applicants from 1 July 2021. PUP claims for students are extended until the start of the 2021/2022 college year with the final payment on 7 September 2021.

Under the plan, the weekly payment rate will reduce by €50 on the following dates:

  • 7 September 2021
  • 16 November 2021
  • 8 February 2022 
 

If the reduced PUP payment is less than the jobseekers payment or other social welfare income supports that a person qualifies for, they will get the higher payment.

  • For more information about PUP click HERE
  • To apply for the PUP please get your staff to use the MyWelfare service HERE 

From 16 October 2020, the COVID-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment weekly rate:

Average weekly earnings

Personal rate

Over €400

€350

€300 – €400

€300

€200 – €300

€250

Less than €200

€203

Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS)

Update: June 2021

The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme is extended to to 31 December 2021

What is the EWSS

It is effectively a subsidy to pay the wages of employees. There are two parts to it

·      It provides a flat rate subsidy to qualifying employers based on numbers of paid and eligible employees on the payroll, and

·      It charges a reduced rate of employers PRSI of 0.5% on wages paid which are eligible for the subsidy payment

 

Are there qualifying criteria?

Yes. Your total turnover in the calendar year 2021 must be expected to experience a reduction of 30% of turnover compared to the business in 2019. As pubs will only operate for 7 months at best in 2021 it would be safe to assume that all pubs will qualify

 

How is it paid?

It is administered by Revenue on a “self-assessment basis”. It is paid directly into the employer’s bank account once a month in arrears.

 

Do I have to register?

Yes. You must register and any application for payment filed without prior registration will be automatically rejected.

 

How do I register?

You register through the ROS system. Registration will only be processed if the employer is registered for PAYE/PRSI as an employer, has a bank account linked to that registration and has tax clearance.

 

How much is the subsidy?

It depends on the amount of wages paid to the individual each week. The following scales apply:

Employee Gross Weekly Wage

Subsidy Payable

Less than €151.50

Nil

From €151.50 to €202.99

€203

From €203 to €299.99

€250

From €300 to €399.99

€300

From €400 to €1,462

€350

 

PRSI

There is also a reduction in the Employers PRSI to 0.5%. This is from approx. 10.8% so it is another 10.3% saving

 

Can I employ new people and claim EWSS for them?

Yes

 

Proprietary Directors

EWSS can be claimed on behalf of proprietary directors if they are on the payroll. Sole traders can claim the EWSS for their employees but, as sole traders cannot be an employee of himself / herself they cannot be on the payroll and cannot claim EWSS on their own behalf.

 

Connected Parties

A connected party is defined as a brother, sister, linear ancestor, linear descendent, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew of an individual or their spouse. Connected parties would have had to be on the payroll at some stage between July 1st 2019 and June 30th 2020 to qualify. You may not claim for a connected party that has been added to the payroll outside of these dates.

 

Extension of the Waiver on Waiting Days for Job seekers Payments

Minister Humphreys has also secured Government approval to extend the waiver on waiting days for Jobseeker payments until the end of June 2021. Ordinarily, when a person makes an application for a jobseeker’s benefit or allowance, payment is not made for the first three days of unemployment, called ‘waiting days’. These waiting days will continue to be waived on applications for Jobseeker’s payments until 2021.

Suspension of Right to Claim Redundancy Extended

The Minister also secured government approval to extend the redundancy provisions relating to temporary lay-off and short-time work, which arose as a result of Covid-19 until September 30th, 2021. Section 29 of the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Act 2020 temporarily reduced the scope of the operation of the Redundancy Payments Act 1967 by the addition of Section 12A to the Redundancy Payments Act which permitted those on a period of layoff or short time, (for 4 weeks or more, or for 6 weeks in the last 13 weeks), to give notice of their intention to claim for redundancy from their Employer. It is important to note that the Employee’s right to claim redundancy has not been removed but rather deferred for the emergency period in circumstances of temporary lay-off or short-time employment.

Re-opening your Business & Covid Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP)

Once you re-open your business or re-commence employment you should stop your Covid payment claim on your first day back at work.

You can stop your payment online HERE 

What is CRSS?

The CRSS has been the lifeline for most businesses since its announcement in last year’s budget. It has provided weekly payments that assisted members to survive and cover some ongoing liabilities.

 

Any business where the turnover of the business during the period of restrictions (claim period) was no more than 25% of the average weekly turnover of the business in 2019 (average weekly turnover in 2020 in the case of a new business) were eligible to apply subject to a few other conditions.  While the CRSS has been extended until December of this year (2021) that does not mean that it will continue to be available to all businesses.

 

Since June 2nd 2021, hotels can no longer apply for CRSS irrespective of their turnover as indoor restrictions are lifted. Many are still below the threshold of 25% of turnover but the CRSS is not available to them.

 

Similar to this, pubs will not be able to access the CRSS from July 5th. If you re-open outside between June 7th and July 5th you can continue to claim CRSS but your turnover must meet the 25% provision.

 

Restart Week

This is, in effect, part of what was previously called a restart grant.  It is called a restart week.

 

To be eligible the business must be recommenced within a reasonable period of the lifting of restrictions (July 5th). By reasonable period it is meant that the business is about to commence its activities or has already recommenced its activities.

 

The restart week is the equivalent of three weeks double CRSS. Example – a business is currently getting €500 per week on CRSS – the restart week is equal to €3,000.

 

How do I claim the restart week?

The claim can be made on the claim portal in respect of CRSS which is available via the eRepayments system on ROS. There are 4 requirements:

  1. Details of the Claim – Only 1 restart claim should be made. The system will automatically calculate the payment due and issue one single payment
  2. Provide bank details
  3.  Requirement for a declaration as follows 

Acknowledgement that as a recipient of the CRSS, the name under which the businessactivity is carried on, a description of the business activity and the address, includingEircode, of the business premises, will be published on the website of the Revenue

Commissioners;

A declaration that the return is correct and complete;

A declaration that the person intends to recommence trading within a reasonable period

of time from the date on which the applicable Covid public health restrictions are lifted;

A declaration that the business will repay the restart week if they do not recommence

trading within a reasonable period of the restrictions lifting.

  1. Sign and submit

 

The claim must be made no later than 8 weeks from the date on which the restrictions, to which the restart week claim relate, are lifted (8 weeks from July 5th)

 

What should I do if I am reopening on 7th June 2021?

 

If you expect your trading to be less than 25% of a normal (2019) week you should continue to claim the CRSS – this is repayable if you actually exceed the 25% and then claim the restart week on July 5th.

 

What should I do if opening on July 5th?

 

We suggest claim the CRSS until July 5th and then claim the restart week.

 

Total Restart Support

 

The total support in this area is in 3 parts

  • The Restart Week (3 x 2 weeks CRSS)
  • The BRSS to be paid in September (some conditions and details not yet available but likely to be equal to a minimum of 3 weeks CRSS (3 weeks CRSS)

 

Total of 9 weeks CRSS or, taking the previous example of €500 per week CRSS, a total of €4.5k.

 

Footnote. The full new guidelines are HERE (https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/press-office/budget-information/2021/crss-guidelines.pdf ). The guidelines for making a claim are on pages 71 – 77.


CRSS Claims

The claim portal in respect of CRSS is available via the eRepayment system on ROS (Other Services>eRepayment Claims). It is important to note that the CRSS ‘Tax Head’ will only be visible to those persons who have successfully completed the CRSS eRegistration process (ROS>Other Services>Manage Tax Registrations).

Qualifying persons can make a claim for each claim period for which they meet the eligibility criteria and a new claim should be made for each claim period.

Before any new claim, taxpayers should review the eligibility criteria in Section 4 of the Guidelines and ensure they meet all conditions before making a claim for each claim period.

There are 4 steps to making a claim (see Appendix II of the Guidelines for screen shots);

Step 1 – Details of the claim. The following information will be required;

  • Business Premises (in which a relevant business activity is carried on) in respect of which a claim is made,
  • Claim period start week,
  • Claim period end week.

Step 2 – Provide bank details.

Step 3 – Summary and declaration. A person making a claim will be required to make the following declarations;

  • Acknowledgement that as a recipient of the CRSS, the name under which the business activity is carried on, a description of the business activity and the address, including Eircode, of the business premises, will be published on the website of the Revenue Commissioners.
  • Confirmation that the business is significantly impacted by restrictions introduced by Public Health Regulations made under sections 5 and 31A of the Health Act 1947 for the purpose of preventing the transmission of Covid-19, such that customers are prohibited or significantly restricted from entering the business premises, and a declaration that the business has been forced to close or trade at significantly reduced levels as a direct result of those restrictions.
  • A declaration that the average weekly turnover of the business in respect of the period being claimed does not exceed 25% of the average weekly turnover as entered during the registration stage.
  • A declaration that the return is correct and complete
  • A declaration that the person intends to recommence trading when the restrictions no longer apply.

Step 4 – Sign and submit.

Time Limit 

  • Claims must be made within 8 weeks of the start of each claim period otherwise you lose the weeks for which you are late in applying.
  • For the 1st claim, if you encountered delays in Registration, for instance where Revenue requested additional information, it may be possible to extend the 8 week deadline by a further 3 weeks. Please see Section 3.

Here is a link to the latest version of the Guidelines:

https://www.revenue.ie/en/corporate/press-office/budget-information/2021/crss-guidelines.pdf


Pub/Off Licence issue with CRSS

Revenue has clarified that a publican who owns a pub and an off licence – where the pub is closed due to the pandemic and the off licence is open – can apply for the CRSS payment.

We posed the following question: “If a publican has a pub and separate off licence can this be regarded as two relevant business activities for CRSS?

“The pub is closed due to pandemic restrictions. The off-licence is allowed to continue trading. The off-licence may or may not sell additional products such as groceries etc. The turnover of the pub and off-licence are separately identifiable in accounts.”

In reply, Revenue said the following:

“Qualification for the CRSS scheme is dependent on several factors. Each factor must be assessed and each of the criteria must be satisfied, in order to comply with the terms of the scheme and for the business to qualify for payment.

Businesses that will qualify for inclusion in the scheme will be those companies and self-employed individuals carrying on a business activity (or business activities) from fixed business premises that are subject to COVID restrictions, such that:

  • The business is required to prohibit or considerably restrict members of the public from accessing their customer-facing business premises due to COVID-19 restrictions.
  • Customers would normally attend the listed premises to access the trade.

From the limited information provided by you, I gather that the publican in your example would be eligible for the support scheme provided they have valid tax clearance. In this query the taxpayer or company must register for CRSS via the eRegistration system on ROS. Payments will be made direct to Customer bank accounts. Bank account details held on record for the EWSS taxhead will be used. In the event a Customer is not registered for EWSS, payment will be made to the bank details held for IT/CT.”

Our interpretation is that it will be important that the turnover of the pub and off-licence will need to be separately identifiable and verifiable.



As for June 2021, the Government will provide for an enhanced restart week payment – a single payment of three double week to businesses upon re-opening (subject to a maximum of €30,000).

To be eligible the business must be recommenced within a reasonable period of the lifting of restrictions (July 5th). By reasonable period it is meant that the business is about to commence its activities or has already recommenced its activities.

The restart week is the equivalent of three weeks double CRSS. Example – a business is currently getting €500 per week on CRSS – the restart week is equal to €3,000.

How do I claim the restart week?

The claim can be made on the claim portal in respect of CRSS which is available via the eRepayments system on ROS. There are 4 requirements:

  1. Details of the Claim – Only 1 restart claim should be made. The system will automatically calculate the payment due and issue one single payment
  2. Provide bank details
  3.  Requirement for a declaration as follows 

‐ Acknowledgement that as a recipient of the CRSS, the name under which the businessactivity is carried on, a description of the business activity and the address, includingEircode, of the business premises, will be published on the website of the Revenue Commissioners;

‐ A declaration that the return is correct and complete;

‐ A declaration that the person intends to recommence trading within a reasonable period

of time from the date on which the applicable Covid public health restrictions are lifted;

‐ A declaration that the business will repay the restart week if they do not recommence

trading within a reasonable period of the restrictions lifting.

  1. Sign and submit

The claim must be made no later than 8 weeks from the date on which the restrictions, to which the restart week claim relate, are lifted (8 weeks from July 5th)

Business Resumption Support Scheme (BRSS)

As the economy re-opens, a further scheme is being introduced for vulnerable but viable businesses, particularly in sectors that were significantly impacted throughout the pandemic, even during periods when restrictions were eased.

Businesses whose turnover is reduced by 75% in the reference period (1 September 2020 to 31 August 2021) compared with 2019 will be eligible. The scheme will not be restricted by location, rate paying or physical premises. It is expected that there will be a limited number of such businesses and recognised that it is important that such businesses are supported.

Businesses who previously availed of other schemes such as SBASC and the Tourism Business Continuity Scheme for example as well as CRSS will be eligible to apply provided they meet the qualifying criteria.

The BRSS will be administered by Revenue and will operate in a similar way to CRSS.

Details of scheme will be published in due course.

 

In advance of reopening all staff must complete Covid-19 training before they can recommence work. We have secured an industry-leading customised training course for all our members at no cost to you. It is very simple to use and only takes 20 minutes to complete click HERE

Employees who are laid off are entitled to public holiday payment for 13 weeks after they have ceased working. 

Please consider the following Q&A:

Q: Is it still necessary to have worked 40 hours in previous five weeks (to be entitles to public holiday payment)? If so, does this refer to the last five weeks before layoff?

A: Calculations are based on the five weeks immediately preceding layoff.

Q: If entitled to a benefit how can this be paid when employee is claiming social welfare (i.e COVID Emergency payment) as you are not allowed to process any payroll for them or they will be cut off from benefit. Is it carried forward until they return to work?

A: Public holiday entitlements will be paid on either resumption of employment OR as part of final payment if made redundant

Q: What about employees not working but retained on payroll with the Revenue Wage Subsidy Scheme with or without top-up. Is the 40 hour requirement still applicable?

A: Although employees are not working they are still employed and as such are arguably entitled to benefit for Public Holiday. For full time employees who are on the wage subsidy and receiving full top up, if they were due to work the public holiday Monday, they aren’t required to work and they still get their normal pay.

Obviously, there are part time/casual staff who are not rostered for public holidays and hence the 1/5 of their normal working week calculation would apply.

Q: Why pay staff an additional benefit if they are already getting paid time off? 

A: Technically they are not on paid time off but are restricted by their employer, by virtue of the fact of a Governmental order, from attending work.

Tax Owed- The Finance Minister has confirmed that staff paid through the wage subsidy scheme won’t have to repay any tax they owe until 2023.

Supports

 

On 1 June 2021, the Government launched the Economic Recovery Plan 2021.  As part of the measures announced in the Economic Recovery Plan, the Minister for Finance confirmed that the period of time during which tax debts can be warehoused will be extended until the end of December 2021 for all eligible taxpayers, and that the scheme would be extended to cover overpayments of the EWSS.

1) Debt Warehousing of certain VAT and PAYE (Employer) taxes

‘Debt Warehousing’ means VAT and PAYE relating to the period of COVID-19 closure will be ‘parked’ at zero interest rate for a further 14-15 months after re-opening.

The tax periods for which liabilities can be warehoused commence in Jan 2020 for VAT, and from Feb 2020 for PAYE. The next two-monthly VAT period after opening is also included.

All tax returns during the closure must have been filed as normal. Inclusion in the scheme is automatic for Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

After the 12 month period you can enter a Repayment Plan which will be at a rate of only 3% interest. The repayment period is negotiable.

Tax Clearance will not be affected by availing of warehousing arrangements.

Examples:

Pub opens June:-

Tax periods warehoused

VAT

January 1st 2020 to August 31st 2020

PAYE

February 1st 2020 to August 31st 2020

12 month zero interest phase

September 1st 2020 – August 31st 2021.

Reduced Interest Phase – 3% interest on COVID-19 liabilities

September 1st 2021 until liabilities paid in full.

Pub opens September:-

Tax periods warehoused

VAT

January 1st 2020 to December 31st 2020

PAYE

February 1st 2020 to December 31st 2020

12 month zero interest phase

January 1st 2021 – December 31st 2021.

Reduced Interest Phase – 3% interest on COVID-19 liabilities

January 1st 2022 until liabilities paid in full.

2) Reduced interest rate for outstanding ‘non-COVID-19’ tax debts

The Government also announced a reduced interest rate of 3% per annum to apply to tax debts that cannot be warehoused, i.e. older liabilities for taxes of all types, provided the taxpayer concerned enters into a phased payment agreement with the Collector-General before 30 September 2020.

The 3% rate represents a significant reduction from standard interest rates on late payment of taxes of 8% – 10% per annum.

If you have any outstanding tax issues please contact your tax advisor immediately to ensure you can avail of this offer before it expires.

Further information and guidance on both measures is outlined in the information booklet:

 

Guinness is running the Raising the Bar Helpline, a dedicated freephone support phoneline for pub owners, their staff and their immediate families affected by the COVID-19 crisis. The service is being financed as part of the €14 million Raising the Bar fund established by Guinness this summer.

The helpline is staffed by a team of counsellors and finance experts in Ireland, Monday to Friday, from 9am to 5pm. To ensure that calls continue to be answered, even out of hours, there are counsellors available to take calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, ensuring that contact can be made at any time and any relevant follow up scheduled. The phone number for the helpline is

1800 303 589 (direct dial: (0)12612734) and can also be reached by text or email. All details can be found on www.MyDiageo.com

Guinness is launching the Raising the Bar Helpline to provide support to callers in the context of the COVID 19 pandemic by providing emotional counselling and information regarding financial supports available to them.

The government has published the Return to Work Safely Protocol, which is designed to support employers and workers to put measures in place that will prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

You can access the document HERE

Measures set to be introduced include employers having to ensure their employees answer a survey before they return to work, and confirm whether or not they have Covid-19 symptoms or if they have been in contact with someone displaying symptoms. Workers will also have to undertake induction training to ensure they are up to speed with public health advice. Workplaces will also have to appoint at least one worker representative who will work with the employer to ensure measures are being strictly adhered to.

It’s important to remember the measures in the Return to Work Safely Protocol are separate to the guidelines for social distancing in pubs. 

A new grant available to traditional pubs to furnish their outdoor areas was launched on Monday 14th June. Application forms are available on individual Local Authority websites from that date and all pubs will be able to apply.

In broad terms the new Outdoor Service Enhancement Scheme will aim to assist eligible businesses to enhance their outdoor service offering. The aim is to support jobs and businesses that have been severely impacted by COVID-19. It is expected that eligible pubs will be able to apply for up to €4,000 each, a similar amount which is being given to food-serving businesses. All applicants will be required to comply with planning codes, legislative requirements and other compliance requirements.

 

Fáilte Ireland has put together an informative Covid-19 business support section packed full of advice about a range of issues, including business liquidity, managing temporary closure and accessing government supports.

Click HERE to access the site.

I Am Here Programme

Fáilte Ireland, in partnership with PulseLearning, is offering the I Am Here: Rapid Response service to the Irish tourism industry. This is a programme of mental health support and learning within the workplace and beyond to empower employers and employees to have courageous conversations about mental health.

I Am Here recognises that people in your business want to connect with their fellow team members to get the help or support they may need, especially during times of crisis. This programme enables your team members to signpost existing services to those who need it.

To access this service, visit I Am Here 

Employee Assistance Programme: Counselling and support

To provide more formal supports to those who need it, Fáilte Ireland has partnered with Inspire Workplaces to offer free and confidential access to an Employee Assistance Programme. This is available widely to business owners, employees and people who are self-employed in the industry.

Inspire Workplaces offers wellbeing supports and counselling services as well as advice on financial concerns and legal issues, and has a wealth of experience of supporting organisations and employees at times of crisis across Ireland.

Through a Freephone Helpline, offered 24/7/365, businesses and employees can access this full range of services:

  • Freephone Helpline on 1800 201346: You will need to quote Fáilte Ireland when accessing the service to ensure the services are provided to you free of charge.
  • Visit www.inspiresupporthub.org and on the homepage, click the purple ‘Sign Up’ icon, top right. Where prompted, enter your company PIN, which is unique to Fáilte Ireland: COFIHUB!

 Employee Wellbeing supports 

Fáilte Ireland’s suite of Employee Wellbeing supports aims to help the industry through this difficult time, on both a professional and personal level. “As you know, business owners, employees and people who are self-employed are facing uncertainty about the future of their jobs and businesses. Times like this can naturally cause significant anxiousness and worry. We know that the impact this crisis is having on the mental health and wellbeing of employees is an area of significant concern for employers, with many not currently having the resources to properly engage and help employees. 

There are a number of supports available, including a full Employee Assistance Programme offering counselling, financial and legal advice, which is available to the whole industry. The supports can be accessed HERE

Safety Charter

Fáilte Ireland has launched a new safety charter aimed at giving consumers confidence to re-engage with the hospitality sector.

 

According to Fáilte Ireland “The Charter has been created to help businesses boost their tourism trade, by showcasing their commitment to following all recommended safety and cleaning guidelines, and to instil confidence in their customers. By signing up to the COVID-19 Safety Charter, businesses are agreeing that all of their employees will follow our sector-specific Guidelines for Re-opening and undertake the Infection Prevention Control programme being launched as part of this.”

 

In early July, Fáilte Ireland will launch an advertising campaign to support this industry initiative which will play a critical role in providing the detail behind the consumer confidence message and establishing the link between the Covid-19 Safety Charter symbol and its meaning.

 

You can access the safety charter application HERE

 

Update Monday 20th July:

The registration process for the Failte Ireland COVID-19 Safety Charter has been updated to allow tourism businesses to identify employees that have conducted appropriate COVID-19 hygiene and safety control (other than the Fáilte Ireland course) as outlined in the Return to Work Safely Protocol.

This update will ensure that all employees/owners working in the various tourism businesses are not required to undergo duplicate training and that the process for applying for the charter is as efficient as possible.

If employees/owners have completed such training, and wish to revise their application details based on this update, they should log onto the Fáilte Ireland Trade Portal here: https://tradeportal.failteireland.ie/ and update both their application choice and the number of employees that they now want to undertake this training offer.

Please note that to avail of this option their Covid-19 Coordinator/lead worker must complete the necessary FI COVID-19 hygiene and safety control training as required in the COVID-19 Safety Charter Terms & Conditions.

Insurance agreement 

The majority of main insurance companies in Ireland have agreed to reduce premiums and maintain cover for unoccupied premises after extensive lobbying from the VFI and Alliance for Insurance Reform.

After making strenuous representations to the Department of Finance about the insurance sector’s refusal to accept VFI members’ business interruptions claims, the Department has secured an agreement with most of Insurance Ireland’s members to ensure they take a more customer focussed approach when dealing with businesses.

The outcome of this engagement is an agreement from most of the key insurers in the Irish market – namely Allianz, AIG, AXA, FBD, RSA, Liberty Insurance, Travelers Insurance and Zurich – that they will apply the following common measures which will be available to their business customers:

Forbearance

  • Insurers will reduce premiums for business customers to reflect reduced level of exposure as a result of Covid-19 restrictions for Employer Liability/ Public Liability and Commercial Motor.
  • Insurers will allow up to 28 days after renewal for payment.

Business Premises

  • Insurers will maintain cover for unoccupied commercial buildings/ premises not in use due to Covid-19 restriction (for a maximum of 90 days). Appropriate supervision and security of the premises is required.
  • Insurers will support requests for a change of property use during the crisis.

NB: Customers wishing to avail of this offer should contact their insurers (or brokers) directly

Arthur Cox & Co

We have been engaging, together with the LVA, with Arthur Cox & Co in respect of the insurance issue. To view a detailed click HERE

Owens McCarthy

As the insurance sector continues to refuse to honour business interruption cover claimed as a result of Covid-19, a professional loss assessor working on your behalf has never been more important.

The VFI is happy to endorse the work of leading assessors, Owens McCarthy, who have represented many publicans over the years with great success.

While there are many people out there purporting to be experts, only trained and professional individuals working in the claims sector can give a valued opinion. That’s where Owens McCarthy comes in.

They offer a professional service within a large organisation that can handle a significant number of VFI member queries. While there are other loss assessors out there, dealing with Owens McCarthy will mean you receive their expertise gained from working on other VFI member policies. There is strength in numbers.

While this is not a partnership with the VFI, we strongly recommend you engage a loss assessor with an excellent track record. Owens McCarthy have spoken at VFI seminars in the past and we have no hesitation in recommending their service. They are happy to work for members on the basis of results achieved rather than upfront payments.

Visit the website at WWW.OWENSMCCARTHY.COM or contact them on 1890 293 949.

On moratoriums, Bank of Ireland says:

“Qualifying customers will not make their capital & Interest loan repayments for the next three months after they have been approved for the moratorium. For all loans, whether they are on a variable rate (≤12 months) or a longer term fixed rate (>12 months), the interest will continue to accrue on the loan and the term of the loan will be extended upon maturity of the moratorium. In the case of a fixed rate loan, it will mean the fixed rate will last for a period of three months longer than originally anticipated as this will ensure the loan repayments remain the same upon expiry of this 3 month moratorium”

Charges for returned Direct Debits

Refunds for these can be requested through local branch manager or relationship manager.

These are done on a case by case basis.

  • Direct Debit block account to all Direct Debit payments click HERE
  • Direct Debit reactivate all direct debits on your account click HERE
  • Direct Debit Refund click HERE
  • Direct Debits 4-1005R refuse next Specific DD click HERE

The forms must be filled in and sent to the local branch manager or relationship manager.

Bank charges

After extensive contact with Bank of Ireland, we received the following details last night about a deferral of bank charges:

“Business customers previously received notification that transaction fees for business current accounts for December, January and February were due to be applied to their accounts on March 20th. However, for businesses where cash flow has been temporarily impacted by COVID-19, we are offering a deferral of these fees.

This means that the fees that have been applied to business customer’s accounts on March 20th will be refunded to customers for the deferred period where they apply for this and are impacted by COVID-19.

To apply for this deferral, download application form HERE

Complete the form then email it to [email protected]

These fees will remain payable by you and will be charged to your Business Current Account in three equal monthly tranches on 21st September, 21st October and 20th November 2020.

The deferral of the fees only applies to the quarterly current account fees applied on the 20th of March 2020 for ROI account holders only.

Business On Line fees and charges and any interest payable on the Business Current Account will continue to be applied and paid.

A reminder to VFI members that if you’re looking for some type of loan or mortgage holiday you will need to contact your bank directly. They will not approach you! Here’s Ulster Bank’s Covid-19 support page HERE

The VFI has received confirmation from government that commercial rates for pubs are to be abolished for the duration of the closure caused by Covid-19. This extremely welcome news comes after VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribben contacted Minister for Finance Paschal Donohue and Minister for State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, John Paul Phelan about the matter.

In an email to Padraig, the Minister for State wrote: “There’s a lot more detail to be worked out over the coming weeks, but I can assure you that the government has no intention of pursuing commercial rates to be paid for the period Pubs have been asked to close on public health grounds”.

Commercial rates are one of the biggest outgoings for most publicans, so tonight’s news will be of huge relief to members.

 

Following the confirmation we received two weeks ago that commercial rates for pubs are to abolished for the duration of the crisis, you still must engage with your local authority about this issue.

You should write to your local authority requesting a derogation from rates based on the fact that Minister for State at the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government, John Paul Phelan, wrote to the VFI stating: “There’s a lot more detail to be worked out….over the coming weeks but I can assure you that the government has no intention of pursuing commercial rates to be paid for the period Pubs have been asked to close on public health grounds”.

 

Please take the necessary precautions to secure your premises during this enforced closure. Because pubs are closed for a prolonged period of time all reasonable steps should be taken to ensure that good crime prevention measures are in place. In particular, alarms should be armed and all doors and windows fully secured and locked. No cash should be retained on the premises and other goods such as cigarettes, spirits and electrical items of high value should be locked away securely. It is advised that regular checks are carried out on the premises and any anomalies found or detected should be reported as necessary.

Please be assured that the Gardaí will be maintaining a full patrolling system and any suspicious activity in the vicinity of your premises should be immediately reported to your local station. Stay Safe.

Something you may have forgotten but on top of the many challenges you already face, allowing drain networks and connected Grease Traps to dry out during this prolonged period of inactivity will cause problems. This distinct possibility can be averted by the few simple measures outlined below from fog.ie:

With the current enforced closure in place we are offering Publicans some tips, for your staff to carry out during this period, so as to avoid potential problems when you eventually reopen:

1) Regularly run the taps feeding to the Grease Trap several times per week during the current closure.

2) If you already use an approved Dosing Programme reduce to a minimum, but do not fully eliminate, dosing of the Grease Trap. 

By taking the above measures you can then keep your drain lines flowing/ prevent anaerobic (smelly) conditions & blockages from forming plus avoiding unwarranted costs of a Pump Out being needed when the system restarts.

(some of this content was originally posted in March/April 2020 and may no longer be relevant)

You have probably received correspondence from suppliers, outlining how they plan to handle the crisis from their end. In case you haven’t read any of the letters, there are copies available in our Members area HERE

Diageo scheme

The Diageo scheme to support bar staff is now open. Publicans should visit https://www.mydiageo.com/s/login/ to process applications on behalf of their staff.

For information about the Diageo scheme click HERE

Wednesday 22nd April – A note from Diageo on its voucher scheme for pub staff:

“We have not started to distribute the vouchers just yet. Once the fund closed, we had to spend a little more time than planned in terms of tidying up the application requests to ensure we have captured everyone applications correctly.

“There is no exact date of distribution just yet, however we’re hopeful that by the end of this week we can hand the full list of successful applicants to our agency partner who is handling the logistics of the vouchers for them to begin the process.”

The national housing charity Threshold, the only specialist information, advice and advocacy service for people renting, recently announced the establishment of a dedicated freephone helpline to support workers who may be struggling to pay their rent or mortgage. The service is being financed as part of the €1.5 million Guinness Fund announced recently. It will provide tailored advice to those worried about their ability to pay rent as a result of the current situation. You can read more about the service HERE

Raising the Bar Fund

Standing with publicans of Ireland, Guinness announced on 24th June a new €14 million fund, called “Raising the Bar”, established to support the recovery of pubs across the Island of Ireland. This is part of a Diageo global programme to support pubs and bars to welcome customers back and recover following the COVID-19 pandemic. “Raising the Bar” will be a two-year programme available from July 2020.
 
In Ireland, the “Raising the Bar” programme will be focused on the provision of practical equipment and confidence building measures needed for outlets to reopen and operate on a safe and sustainable basis. Guinness will consult with the on-trade as to how best to direct future funding over the two- year period.
 
From 24 June 2020, bar owners across all of Ireland will be able to register their interest for the “Raising the Bar” programme via www.mydiageo.com. Bar owners will receive regular updates on best practice training and resources and be able to participate in global surveys to share insights, as they build back their businesses.

Heineken

Heineken has issued a convenient Covid-19 guide publicans can use during the shutdown called “Simple steps you can take in your premises”. You can access the PDF HERE

They would like to offer support to pubs to help them out in this difficult time. They would be prepared to defer payments on a case by case basis rather than instituting a blanket freeze on payments.

Those members paying for live performances please advise IMRO this is no longer the case. You will need to do this in writing.

The email address is [email protected]

IMRO are taking the following to assist members:

– A DD moratorium for all government enforced closures and voluntary closures (where licensees self declares the closure) that will include all your members to 30th April with the situation to be reviewed and agreed with you again at that point

– Credit notes issued to all premises that have had government enforced closures and voluntary closures (where licensees self declares the closure) up to 30th April with the situation to be reviewed and agreed with you again at that point. Credit notes will be issued once the pubs have re-opened

– We are requesting that rather than cancel direct debits, licensees leave the direct debits in place and the moratorium above will apply

– We also request that, where possible, your members use the IMRO Customer portal HERE

“We (IMRO) are not in a position to refund VFI members for the DD taken last week due to distribution commitments made to IMRO members. The majority of the IMRO membership is somewhat similar to VFI members in that their ability to earn has also been closed down with no possibility to perform in pubs, clubs and hotel bars.

“We will work with you and your members as much as we possibly can through this period and I wish you and your members all the very best during this unprecedented extraordinarily difficult time for them.”

As they cannot refund the dd taken out recently we are working on having a moratorium on the first month back in action as a replacement.

Credit Notes

IMRO will be issuing credit notes to VFI members once the closure orders have been lifted. IMRO strongly advise that all customers sign up for IMRO’s self-service portal. It is the easiest and fastest way to obtain your credit note. Register your account now at the following link HERE

 

Monday 11th May Update 

Due to the current measures, IMRO will be extending the duration of credit notes that will be made available to customers, as well as the direct debit payment holiday until the 31st of May 2020.

In order to obtain a credit note and manage your account online, IMRO request that all customers sign-up to the IMRO Self-Service Licensing portal. Please find the registration link: HERE

This will all be reviewed again before the end of May and a decision on June payments will be taken considering the circumstances at that time. If you require any further information on IMRO’s COVID-19 procedure, please find the customer FAQ HERE

BOC has published a guide for VFI members to use if you need to isolate the gas system. You can access the document HERE

BOC also has an Covid-19 section on its website HERE

We’ve received general guidelines (see below) from Ecocool in respect of equipment not being utilised during shut down. Best practice is to follow manufacturers/ supplier/ refrigeration contractors and relevant breweries for specific instruction but this fact sheet is a handy reference tool. 

On a related health note, please remember to run your taps a few times a week to prevent water stagnation.

To download a printable version of the following click HERE

The following are some general Guidelines received from Ecocool in respect of Equipment not being utilised during shut down.

Best practice is to follow manufacturers/ supplier/ refrigeration contractors and relevant breweries for specific instruction.

Breweries should be contacted for advice on best practice on line cleaning. Your local refrigeration contractor should be engaged to check equipment in advance of reopening to ensure all equipment is at peak performance.

How to Clean Your Bottle Cooler & Turn Off

  1. Before you begin – ensure your hands and arms are clean to prevent any bacteria entering the cooler. Ensure the cooler is empty.
  2. Power off the cooler at the mains.
  3. Spray both the shelves and the interior sides with appropriate cleaning fluid, then rinse thoroughly. Use a clean cloth to dry.
  4. Spray appropriate cleaning fluid on the hinges and the door runners and wipe clean. These areas are bacteria prone and can cause doors to jam.
  5. Leave doors open to allow air to freely flow through the cooler while powered down.

Always follow manufacturer’s instructions

 

How to Clean an Ice Maker

Ice makers’ maintenance requirements will vary from vendor to vendor, but most ice machines follow a similar overall process. Please consult with your machine’s manual for the appropriate procedure, but here are some general steps to clean most ice makers.

  1. Remove all ice from the bin or dispenser.All ice must be removed during the cleaning and sanitizing cycles. To remove the ice, follow one of the methods below:
  • Press the power switch at the end of the a harvest cycle after ice falls from the evaporators
  • Press the power switch and allow the ice to completely melt
  1. Press the “clean” or “wash” button if available.Water will flow through the water dump valve and down the drain. Wait until the water trough refills and the display indicates to add chemicals. This typically takes at least 1 minute.
  2. Add the recommended amount of ice machine cleanerper your manual.
  3. Wait until the clean cycle is complete. This will typically take at least 20 minutes. After the cycle is complete, disconnect power to the ice machine (and the dispenser if applicable).

     

  4. Remove any internal ice machine components for cleaning.For safe and proper removal, refer to your machine’s manual. Once all parts have been removed, continue to the next step.
  5. Mix a solution of cleaner and lukewarm water.Refer to your machine’s manual for an appropriate amount of solution. A general water to cleaner ratio is 1 litre of water to 125ml of cleaner. Depending on the amount of mineral build up, you may need to use additional cleaner.

     

  6. Use half of the water and cleaner mixture to clean all componentsand parts you’ve removed. Most solutions will start to foam once they come in contact with lime, scale, and mineral deposits. Once the foaming stops, use a soft-bristle nylon brush, sponge, or cloth to carefully clean all parts and then rinse with clean water.
  7. Use the other half of the water and cleaner mixture to clean all food zone surfacesof the ice machine and bin or dispenser. Use a nylon brush or cloth to thoroughly clean the following ice machine areas: side walls, base (area above the trough), evaporator plastic parts (top, bottom, sides), and the bin or dispenser.

     

  8. Rinse all areas with clean water.This will help remove chemicals to prevent ice from becoming contaminated.

Always follow manufacturer’s instructions

Glasswashers/Dishwashers

  1.  Use  a good quality detergent to clean out machine by running 4 cycles
  2. Clean inside with a  small brush to get at accrued dirt 
  3. Leave door open and then repeat the process on re-use of machine.
  4. Also advisable to get local service provider to give a cursory service before re-using.

Always follow manufacturer’s instructions

Beer Cooling Systems

Cold room / Ice Bank systems:

  • Turn off Ice Bank and Cold room systems at point of power supply.
  • Advisable to clean beer lines and leave dry until further use) need Brewery advice on this point)

Always follow manufacturer’s instruction

 

LANCER Glycol Systems 

  • Turn off External compressor/compressors at point of power supply
  • Turn off LANCER Glycol tank at power supply
  • Turn off Chiller plates at controller under bar counter
  • Advisable to clean beer lines and leave dry until further use (need Brewery advice on this point)
  • If Bottle coolers on system, please turn off also
  • If Food cold rooms on system, please empty all food or call ECOCOOL for advice if you wish to continue to use the Food room.

Always follow manufacturer’s instructions

Heat Pump / Air Con Systems

  • Turn off at Power Supply
  • Clean Filters if possible
  • Get serviced on return to action, incl. external compressor units

Always follow manufacturer’s instructions

Training and advice during Covid-19 crisis

Your Local Enterprise Office

Members should be aware that your Local Enterprise Office offers a range of services to businesses. These services may vary from county to county depending on local needs. The following is a sample of the range of services available at some of the county LEO offices:

How Can Your Local Enterprise Office Help You?

The Local Enterprise Office (LEO) serves as a first stop shop to providing support and services to start, grow and develop micro businesses.

Some supports include:

  • Covid19 Business Support
  • Covid19 Opportunity Webinar For Food Industry
  • Business Continuity Voucher (Worth €2,500 towards third party consultancy)
  • Covid19 Business Loan from Microfinance Ireland
  • Business Information and advice
  • Training Programmes and Events
  • Mentoring
  • Feasibility, Priming and Business Expansion Grants
  • Trading Online Vouchers
  • Networking

To access your Local Enterprise Office (LEO) just google the name of your county followed by LEO e.g.  Meath LEO or Cork LEO.

Failte Ireland Supports

In response to the COVID-19 crisis and the impact it is having on the tourism sector, Failte Ireland have targeting their business supports to respond to the most urgent challenges and threats tourism businesses are now facing. All of these supports can be accessed by clicking on the following:

Business Liquidy

HR Risk

Managing Temporary Closure

Temporary Layoffs and Redundancies

Safeguard Future Revenues 

Jump Starting Sales

Operational Guidance

Government Supports

Brand and Reputation

Employee Wellbeing

These customised supports will assist you and your team to navigate your business through these extremely challenging times and will be continuously updated as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves.

Fáilte Ireland will focus all of our resources in helping to rebuild the industry and the vital contributions it makes to Irish society.

 

To view the list of current government supports click HERE

Irish Water’s new non-domestic tariff framework for business customers is to be deferred as a result of the current Covid 19 emergency. The new framework which supports a new national set of charges was due to come into effect on 1 May 2020, with customers due to receive communications about these changes in the coming weeks. This decision has been taken by Irish Water with the support of our economic regulator, the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU), and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government. 

Irish Water is encouraging businesses to still visit www.water.ie where they can assess the impact of the new charges on their bill using our online calculator tool and case studies.  Further information including detailed Q&A is also available online or by visiting www.cru.ie.

Customers who may be experiencing billing or payment difficulties can contact the dedicated business team on 1850 778 778.

The VFI have designed a number of safety posters for our members which are available on the member section of the website. You can access the posters in the members area of the website HERE

See below some useful hygiene posters you can download and print HERE or click on individual posters here:

                       

                 

Maintaining Pub hygiene during the closure

To download a printable version of the following click HERE

The following feature is a good guide to keeping your pub clean and hygienic during the closure.

As the Covid-19 lockdown continues and our city, town and village pubs remain closed for business, it’s worth considering the safety steps you can take to make sure your venue will be ready to go when the Government gives the green light for trade to resume as normal.

How you close your pubs down and how you carry out simple maintenance checks will put you in a great position to open safely when the restrictions are finally lifted. 

For many publicans, there is usually someone living on-site, so maintaining compliance is possible while heeding current Government advice to stay at home.  

Following these simple steps will help make sure that you can reopen quickly when the time is right:

Water supply

  • Turn off hot water to save money and help prevent the growth of Legionella bacteria
  • Where possible, continue weekly water checks because stagnant water is a breeding ground for legionnaires’ disease. Legionella can cause a potentially fatal type of pneumonia and is contracted by inhaling airborne water droplets containing the bacteria
  • Visit the site weekly to flush taps through
  • If you have accommodation, where possible, remove shower heads or place in the shower or bath basin and run taps and outlets regularly during the closure period 

Pest management

  • As we head into the warmer summer months, flies can be real pests if left unchecked, so we advise electric fly killers are left switched on  
  • We also recommend that you plug sinks to prevent flies from breeding and that U-bends are cleaned out 
  • Many venues may have dried goods left on-site that could attract pests – ensure these are stored in locations where pests are less likely to access them and store any open goods in resealable pest-proof containers
  • Leave bait boxes in place and carry out any recommended pest proofing works to prevent pest entry

Bar hygiene

  • You will probably have cleaned down your bar dispensers, bottles and bar surfaces on closure but make sure your optics are covered and they aren’t sticky because any residue will attract fruit flies
  • Remove spirits from bars and make sure the lids are firmly on to prevent alcohol loss

General hygiene

  • You will have given the venue a thorough clean before closing the doors but keeping on top of hygiene while shut is important
  • It is easy to miss something, so systematically check everywhere is clean and left as it should, for example:
    • Dishwashers​ – they should be empty and washer arms dismantled to remove risks of stagnant water
    • Fridges​ – these will have been emptied, cleaned and switched off, but have the doors been left ajar?
    • Cleaning​ – continue to clean and sanitise all surfaces and areas during closure, including floors, cupboards and underneath and behind equipment because this will mean your pub is sparkling and ready to open without delay
    • Check ‘best before’ dates​ – make sure that any foods remaining on-site, especially dried goods, have been correctly labelled with original manufacturer usage instructions and clearly show the ‘best before’ date. Monitor ‘best before’ dates on foods and drinks, and remove anything that becomes out of date during the period

Fire and security

  • Periodically check your fire detection system, intruder alarm and CCTV are working
  • Many employees will have either been furloughed or, in some cases, made redundant so review your list of key holders and change the alarm code and security locks if necessary

Maintaining records 

  • In addition to preserving a record of when your premises closed and the date of closure, maintaining your records for when the local authority officer calls is advisable during this period, for example:
  • Check and record freezer temperatures if these contain foods
  • Pest checks – make a note of checks carried out
  • Water maintenance – note when you flush the system through 

Review food and health & safety procedures

  • During our ‘normal’ working lives, there is little available time to stop, think and do, so where possible use this time to:
  • Undertake those jobs that you have been putting off 
  • Update food safety, H&S policies and risk assessments
  • Review your allergy information and processes
  • Complete online training courses

It may seem obvious, but your health is more important than anything else. The stress people are feeling right now is perfectly understandable so please ensure you have someone to talk things through. Alternatively, you can call The Samaritans at 116 123 or visit their website: www.samaritans.org

Mental Health Ireland list five key areas we should all concentrate on to remind healthy over the coming period. To view click HERE

This year is very different and it’s important to stay positive about the situation we find ourselves in. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and talk to a fellow publican. We know a few of you around the country have made the commitment to call a few fellow publicans every day to see if they’re ok. Now more than ever it’s good to talk.

There’s a great online resource called Lust for Life that is also worth checking out HERE