‘Limerick businesses won’t survive this outbreak’ says cafe owner

‘Limerick businesses won’t survive this outbreak’ says cafe owner

Helen O'Donnell has called for support for local companies facing into tough period

A CALL has been made to support local businesses left facing difficult weeks due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.

With the number of cases of the flu-like disease on the rise, leading to the cancellation of Limerick’s St Patrick’s Day events, hospitality firms across the city in particular are set to be counting the cost.

”Some of them won’t survive this,” was the stark warning from Helen O’Donnell, who runs the cafe at the Hunt Museum,

Already, she has seen a party of 60 people booked in for this Wednesday lunchtime cancel.

“It’s very difficult,” she said, “If people are thinking of supporting local businesses, if they can, it’s very important they do this. Business won’t survive this, and that’s unfortunately the bottom line.”

With people concerned about eating out, Ms O’Donnell has started offering food to take away in tin foil.

Elsewhere, publicans are set to be out of pocket this weekend following the cancellation of the Six Nations rugby tie between Ireland and France.

But after the city’s St Patrick’s Day parade was axed, it remains to be seen whether people will congregate around bars, or stay at home next Tuesday, a public holiday.

Fianna Fail councillor Jerry O’Dea, the local representative of the Vintners Federation of Ireland, says he has upped safety measures in his Mulgrave Street pub.

Read also: Limerick coffee shops impose ban on reusable cups amid coronavirus fears

“We have to take it seriously as a business. It’s clear there will be more cases announced in the coming days. It’s very worrying for older people, and those who have underlying conditions,” he told Leader Business.

”People are being careful of shaking hands, and we are encouraging people to be respectful of others, not to hug people, that kind of thing,” said Cllr O'Dea.

“We are also respecting the metre of space between customers and ourselves,” he added.

Arguably the real losers from the shelving of the parade – which would normally draw tens of thousands to the city centre – are local retailers.

James Ryan, who runs Centra branches in O’Connell Street and William Street, hopes the council can perhaps recreate the St Patrick’s festival in the autumn when, it’s hoped the worst of the coronavirus has passed.

“I know people are erring on the side of caution, but it’s a pity to see an event like St Patrick’s Day cancelled. You’d love to see an alternative plan.

“For example, let’s create a unique St Patrick’s festival in October,” he suggested.

“We should do something different to make sure we can capitalise on a good event at another time,” he explained.

Like other retailers, he hasn’t been able to source hand sanitiser.

“It wasn’t an overly popular product – it is now,” he exclaimed.

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