By Sean Moriarty

The chairperson of the Kerry Branch of the Irish Hoteliers Federation (IHF) has described this week’s move to Level 3 COVID-19 restrictions as “catastrophic” for the tourism industry both locally and nationally.

Under new regulations hotels can remain open but under very strict rules. These include offering accommodation to people travelling for work or business or to Kerry-based staycationers.

The travelling public are also restricted from leaving their county of residence.

Bernadette Randles family run the Dromhall and Randles Hotels on the Muckross Road.

The Dromhall Hotel closed yesterday (Thursday) and she cannot predict when it might reopen again. Her brother Tom runs the adjacent Randles Hotel and that will remain open for the next three weeks.

The Randles family spent this week engaging with their one hundred staff. Some face being laid off less than four months after returning to work following the easing of restrictions from the first lockdown.

Some staff will be redeployed to Randles Hotel while others will be placed on a three-day week.

“This is horrendous, just as morale was coming back up the rug was pulled from us again,” she told the Killarney Advertiser. “This is going to be catastrophic for the tourist industry, not just in Kerry but nationally.”

Previous figures released by the Kerry Branch of the IHF estimate there are over 15,000 people directly or indirectly employed in the Kerry tourism sector.

Ms Randles said, that as of Tuesday morning this week, 10,000 jobs are at immediate risk in the county.

The growing uncertainty that the country faces a potential Level 4 of 5 shutdown is also causing hoteliers widespread concern.

“I am closing the Dromhall for three weeks, what then? I don’t know, I have to wait and see,” she added.

Ms Randles stressed that she was talking about the issues facing her own family hotels, some Killarney based premises have taken the decision to close until early in the New Year but she said the decision between remaining open, closing for three weeks or closing until next year, rests with each individual hotel and is not a IHF decision.