The president of the Limerick Chamber, Donnacha Hurley, the general manager of the Absolute Hotel
THE Limerick Chamber wants to see the local authority lead a task-force to help facilitate a “sustainable” re-opening.
Over the next few weeks, scores of businesses will begin to trade for the first time in 2021 as Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced plans to begin the exit from lockdown.
Key dates include Monday, May 17 when non-essential retailers can start trading again and Monday, June 7, when outdoor dining and drinking in pubs will be allowed once again.
A week earlier, hotels and bed-and-breakfasts may re-open their doors to tourists.
Limerick Chamber president Donnacha Hurley of the Absolute Hotel says “successful coordination of efforts is required in the next few critical weeks to support business to reopen and drive footfall to our city.’
He said a grouping should be put together urgently to ensure clear communications between the sector stakeholders and Limerick City and County Council who are responsible for the distribution of funding and the granting of planning applications to facilitate outdoor trade.
“It is imperative that we fast-track measures to ensure expedited operational delivery and respond quickly and effectively to obstacles that business owners are meeting,” he said.
“While the grants and supports already announced are welcome, feedback from within the retail and hospitality sector is that application processes are slow and timelines for assessment of properties for suitability for parklets or buildouts or temporary weatherproofing to facilitate outdoor dining are too long.”
There’s delight, he said, that businesses across Limerick now have a date to work towards and that they can “maximise commercial opportunities” during summer.
“I am aware that much work has been done on promoting the city as a staycation destination and that funding has been made available from national government for outdoor animation projects. We now need to see the detail of those projects to give businesses a greater understanding of what they can hook their individual marketing efforts on,” added Mr Hurley.
He said with the Taoiseach and health leaders all pushing for an “outdoor summer” every effort must be made to ensure Limerick is “as clean, attractive and vibrant as possible.”
“Stakeholders are raising concerns around a need for toilet facilities, provision of extra bins and temporary widening of footpaths in the most popular spots around the river walks. We need to know what specific animation will be funded – will there be buskers in designated spots, what family friendly attractions are being developed to support driving footfall to the city,” he asked.
All these are things that the president believes a task force can look towards.
To this end, he has written to council chief executive Dr Pat Daly and Mayor Michael Collins to call for such a grouping to be formed as a matter of urgency.
“It is vital that we work closely together to support workers in this sector and to put in place a safe and sustainable reopening of Limerick. Working together we must prioritise projects that support dwell time, inclusive urban spaces, pedestrianisation and the evening economy. Without this kind of urgent focus , we risk exacerbating the impact of the pandemic for the Limerick workers and businesses in these sectors,” he concluded.
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