Thursday, March 19, 2020

MANY Carlow businesses were resiliently keeping their doors open last week, despite a dramatic fall-off in trade as the county went into lockdown. Social distancing, increased sanitation and reduced bookings were just some of the measures taken by local businesses to protect their customers and staff.

However, the fall-off was evident this week, particularly the night-time trade, as the Carlow public sought to protect themselves against Covid-19.

A dramatic change occurred again on Sunday, with many of the county’s pubs voluntarily closing their doors in the interest of public safety, including Carlow pubs Tully’s bar, Scraggs Alley and the Salt Bar. Later that evening, a government directive forced the closure of all pubs in an effort to stop the spread, with many hotels like the Lord Bagenal in Leighlinbridge and the Step House Hotel, Borris also taking the very tough decision to close.

Given the nature of their work, many of the county’s beauticians and hairdressers also chose to close, the social distancing required to protect their staff and clients making it too difficult to continue.

The vast majority of events planned for the months of March and April have been cancelled in recent days, leaving many venues and their employees counting the cost.

“One hundred percent of our events have been cancelled and it’s not just these two weeks of the moratorium – it has extended beyond that into April,” Colin Duggan, general manager of the Woodford Dolmen Hotel, told The Nationalist last Friday.

“The Pan Celtic Festival has been cancelled, so that’s a whole week of booking at all the hotels in Carlow gone for the week. There will be knock-on effects and the reality is that this situation will go beyond these two weeks.

“The industry is rallying and the government proposals for support are strong; also, our bank has been very supportive and we’ve had some very good conversations with them in the last 24 hours,” said Mr Duggan.

The hotel employs 100 staff, the majority of whom are part-time, who will be greatly affected by the reduction in business. “We are setting up a loan scheme for staff, because it will be six weeks before social welfare will be available,” stated Mr Duggan.

However, on Monday morning the Woodford Dolmen Hotel also took the tough decision to close temporarily.

A number of restaurants also closed their doors over the weekend due to Covid-19 fears, including [email protected], Clashganny House Restaurant and Pimento Wine and Tapas, Kennedy Avenue, Carlow. Like many they, too, hope to open again when this crisis is over.

Pimento owner Paddy Mullins spoke to The Nationalist on Friday and expressed the challenges and difficulties the sector is facing.

“We had had a number of cancellations for this weekend. At this stage, we haven’t made any decision to close and we will be honouring the bookings made this weekend,” said Paddy last Friday.

“We are practising social distance in the restaurant, but our restaurant has natural social distancing with all our individual booths, so hopefully that will stand to us,” he added.

“Look, I totally understand why people are cautious; it’s not anyone’s fault, but at the end of the day, I have staff that will be looking for their wages at the end of the week, and rightly so,” stated Mr Mullins. “Its smaller businesses who will really suffer from all this.”

On Sunday, however, the popular restaurant, like many others, took the difficult decision to close.

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By Suzanne Pender
Contact Newsdesk: +353 59 9170100

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