A pint of the black stuff: Padraig Power of Bradshaws in Castleconnell gears up for Monday PICTURE: BRENDAN GLEESON
LINES are being cleaned, kegs are being delivered, and outdoor seating areas are being dusted down.
It comes as publicans across Limerick gear up for one of the most significant Bank Holiday Mondays in recent memory.
That’s because after a very tough 18 months due to lockdowns, bars will resume trading – to outdoor customers only. Next month, they are expected to be allowed trade indoors.
While some pubs, mainly in the city, have sold take-away beers, for most pubs, Monday will be the first time pints have been poured since Christmas Eve.
However, a note of caution has been sounded, with a particular spike in Limerick cases in the last week – including 261 between Friday and Monday – and a Public Health Mid-West spokesperson warning of “the sharpest increase” in numbers since the third lockdown.
Hotels and guesthouses across Limerick opened to non-essential guests this Wednesday, with Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) president and Limerick hotelier Elaina Fitzgerald Kane from Adare saying: “No-one can afford to drop their guard”, suggesting another closure amid a fresh wave would be “a hammer blow”.
Across Limerick, publicans have been investing tens of thousands of euro in order to ensure their premises are ready to welcome customers outdoors.
Padraig and Margaret Power, who run Bradshaws in Castleconnell said Monday “can’t come quick enough”.
Padraig said: “We have over 20 tables booked already. We’re advising people to book.”
The Powers have poured €35,000 into the business since last July on Perspex dividers, outdoor seating, covered areas, free-standing sanitising stations, PPE, outdoor lighting and staff training among other measures.
One thing that has also changed from the last time pubs were allowed to re-open is the need to purchase a €9 meal.
Ger Callanan of the Glen Tavern is hoping to be able to seat 25 to 30 people in Theatre Lane outside his bar, after council gave him the go-ahead to close the thoroughfare off after 6pm.
“Everything is a bonus now,” he admits, “But the Irish summer does depend on us having indoor available. They can complement each other in that respect. It will be lovely to start seeing the regular faces back in again.”
There will also be some new faces at the popular pub, because many of Ger’s older staff have found other jobs over lockdown.
Joe Lee, who runs his family bar in Newcastle West says Monday will be “a big day”.
“It’ll just be so good to get back to some kind of normality. It isn’t too bad at this time of year because I’d be involved with the GAA teams and I can get out and about. But you’d miss your regulars. Once I can tip away and meet people, I’d be happy,” he added.
While many pubs do have outdoor facilities, others across Limerick do not, and Mary Cronin, the Co Limerick Vintners representative said it’s important these publicans are kept in mind.
Meanwhile, Ms Kane believes hoteliers nationwide would have spent on average €1,000 on each room to put in place safety measures and training. Hotels now really have to step up to the mark, she added:
“The public has been really good already. At the end of the day, we have to give people a good time too. It’s not just about donning the green jersey. We need to deliver great days and a great experience for people.”
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