THERE was concern and nervousness among the Carlow business community about what the future holds as Covid-19 saw local outlets shutting their doors last week.
Carlow Chamber chief executive Brian O’Farrell said the outbreak of Covid-19 had impacted negatively on a variety of sectors, with food retail being the outlier.
“A lot of business, as we see walking down the street, have closed their doors. Hopefully, it’s just for a short term. It’s the way we want it to be. There is a lot of concern and nervousness over it,” he said.
“I don’t think anyone alive on the Earth has experienced anything like this to this level. It’s totally new terrority, no easy-fix solution. It affects everybody and no-one is escaping it.”
Last week, it was announced that impacted businesses will be able to defer paying commercial rates for three months. Other supports, including top-up payments to workers, have been mooted. And while Mr O’Farrell welcomed these measures, he struck a note of caution.
“We have seen a lot support announced, but we still don’t know how they will work. It’s been said we have been given the menu, but the chef doesn’t have any food in the kitchen yet,” he said.
“For businesses that have to close down because of Covid-19, it’s important they take measures to reduce any cost that they are exposed to while they are closed. Many are focused on trying to pay staff and cash flow is not strong in businesses.”
Mr O’Farrell added that it was important for companies that can pay their rates to do so to keep a tax base in the country.
The manner in which local businesses had responded to adversity has been heartening. Detail Menswear in Carlow town, for example, was open for appointments last week, while the Arboretum in Leighlinbridge was operating a ‘click and collect’ service.
“It’s amazing to see how businesses have responded, the resilience that is coming out and the innovation,” said Mr O’Farrell. “It’s a fight back; we are not going to let this stop us.”