THE PRICE of a pint in Ireland might have to be increased so that the pub industry doesn't collapse, according to experts.
In order to compensate for the lack of sales between March and whenever lockdown measures are eventually lifted, the Irish public may be forced into paying extra for their pints.
There could also be a special supplement charge put on tables at restaurants to compensate for the same issue, and in order to help out the tens of thousands of staff employed in the sector, according to economics professor Alan Ahearne, who is an adviser to the Central Bank.
Mr Aherane has suggested that an increase of €1 on every pint and a surcharge of €10 a meal at restaurants could be the new norm in the months to come, as pubs and bars begin to slowly open their doors.
He stressed that economists are grappling with ways for businesses like pubs and restaurants to start re-employing thousands of their laid-off staff, as it seems unlikely there will be a ‘big bang’ lifting of social distancing and the public health advice will likely be for a gradual, sector-by-sector re-opening of the economy.
"In some sectors, employment growth will be quite quick. Like in construction, if those restrictions are lifted in the next few weeks, people can get back to work there quite quickly," said Mr Ahearne, who was until recently a member of the Central Bank commission and is still the chair of its risk committee.
"But on the other extreme, tourism. When will we start seeing either domestic tourists or tourists from abroad coming back here? That will be a long time," he said.
"It does look like social distancing will be with us for a very, very, long time until the vaccine arrives," he said. And it may be possible for restaurants to adopt different business models by taking tables out and surcharge "an extra €1 a pint or a Covid surcharge of €10 a meal" to compensate for lower sales and to make up some of the losses made during the crisis, Mr Ahearne said.
His comments come as official figures last week showed almost 1m of the labour force of 2.3m people were claiming some sort of unemployment or Covid-19 payment.