‘I cannot wait to see people’s faces’: Donal Mulcahy, propreitor Tom Collins and bar manager Pat McEnery
THE pipes have been cleaned, the kegs have been delivered, and today, after 190 days of closure, alcohol-only pubs are open again.
Dozens of bar owners across the city are set to pull pints for customers they have not served since March 15 when the Covid-19 lockdown saw pubs shuttered across the State.
Mike McMahon of Mother Mac’s said he’s feeling a “rainbow of emotions”, as he hailed “the return of the last freedom” removed due to the coronavirus.
Hundreds of staff will today return to work for the first time in six months. Publicans were last night finalising their preparations for the so-called new normal, which will see staff trained in stricter hygiene measures, as social distancing measures such as table service only kicks in.
Bars have undergone significant changes in order to ensure distancing is respected, with a limit on the number of customers allowed at any one time.
Many are gearing up to open early, with demand high from those who miss a pint – without having to buy a “substantial meal”.
Rocky O’Shea of The Commercial in Catherine Street said: “We’d normally open at 12:30pm, but we might open a little earlier because we’ve had so many people asking us if we’re back open.”
Donal Mulcahy, the proprietor of Tom Collins' and Nancy Blake’s said: “We’re just so glad to be able to get back in, meet our customers and have a chat. A lot of our customers young and old just cannot wait to get in and feel what a pub is like again. To not have to pay the €9 tax for a bad bowl of wings. A pub is a pub – it’s not a restaurant.”
The businessman acknowledged the last few months have been “extremely difficult”.
“We’ve been brought up the garden path a few times and left down again at the altar. Mentally for some of the staff it’s been difficult. Mentally for myself it’s been difficult. This [Tom Collins] is a great old family business, it’s been here nearly 80 to 90- years. So six months out of it, we can handle,” he said.
“We just cannot wait to see people’s faces coming in, where they can sit down and have a pint. Or even a cup of coffee. We want to see people here, not at home surfing the internet,” Donal added.
One of the smallest city pubs, Tom Collins' will be able to welcome 50% of its normal capacity at present.
This, Donal said, means around 30 people inside, 40 in the outdoor laneway, and possibly a few at the front in Cecil Street.
Mike added: “There’s an energy coming from our customers and staff that’s been missing the last six months. They are very excited about coming back. We’ve all done what we’ve had to do, we’ve all behaved ourselves. We’ve stayed distant and this Monday is a coming back to the new normal.”
So-called wet-houses are allowed stay open as Limerick has been placed at level two in the national framework for living with Covid-19.
Groups of up to six from three households are allowed congregate, according to the advice.
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