As bars prepare to usher in a new year under a new set of restrictions, many are wondering if it was worth their time to open at all.
All restaurants and bars had to close their doors at 8pm yesterday, as the government tries to tackle the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.
The early closing time will see publicans lose many of their busy hours, leaving some with little choice but to close them until restrictions are eased.
Juno Crott is one of the owners of the Crew Brewing Company in Thomas Street, Limerick.
The pub/brewery opened during the pandemic and is now selling the last of its stockpile while staff prepares to close.
“With 8pm restricted, there is no viable way to turn it on and keep brewing and keep everyone on hours and paying,” Mr. Crute said.
“So we are stopping the brewing, not ordering any new stock, reopening the outdoor service only, for everyone’s safety, and eating, until we run out of beer we have,” he said.
The big question for Crew and the other bars, is how long this shutdown will last.
« The last time we had to do this we closed and didn’t open until June 7. So it really depends on what happens next, rather than just losing the Christmas trade, » said Mr. Crute.
John Styles is the principal of Riddins in Washington Street Cork. It will also be closed in the coming weeks.
« Life doesn’t really start in the place until after 6pm or 7pm, » said Mr. Styles.
“We are a big four-story place, so we need a lot of staff. But we don’t have enough hours for people. So it is more rewarding for them to go back to PUP payments because we don’t have hours.”
Mr Styles, who has been in the industry for more than 30 years, says the past few years have been the toughest.
« There’s a lot of gloom and gloom here at the moment. We’re just after telling the staff. It’s not a great time, facing the start of a new year without work.
Michael O’Donovan, Cork City President for Ventures’ Federation of Ireland (VFI), said his pub, Castle Inn, would remain open. However, was aware of a number of pubs around Cork that would close after Christmas or New Years.
“It will be very difficult once we get into the first week of January and people are back in business. Bars will struggle to make ends meet,” Mr. O’Donovan said.
VFI CEO Badraj Crippen said it’s no surprise that some publicists are opting for a full shutdown rather than trading with limited hours.
« A lot of bars don’t open until late in the afternoon anyway, so trading for only three or four hours, which is the quietest part of the day, doesn’t make much sense, » Crippen said.
“What we need now is a comprehensive support package that will help our members through another trade closure. We were told that the slow reopening of business over the past summer was to ensure that we would never go back to a closure scenario, but that is where we find ourselves.”
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