Many Limerick publicans have decided to remain closed this month
EARLY closing and staff absences due to Covid-19 have forced many Limerick pub and restaurant owners to stay closed until February.
Under measures expected to remain in place until the end of the month, hospitality businesses must close at 8pm to stall the spread of the Omicron variant.
But the Leader has been made aware of a significant number of premises which will not re-open until the start of next month at least.
It comes with business people seeing the mid-evening closure as not being financially viable during what is traditionally a quiet trading month, coupled with staff absenteeism as Covid-19 cases surge.
“It’s very bleak at the moment in terms of what we are seeing,” said Paul Flannery, the local Vintners Federation of Ireland representative".
“A lot of pubs are seeing it’s not viable to stay open by paying operational costs and wages. Midweek, Monday to Friday, who will finish work at 5pm to go out for a half an hour to an hour? The viability isn’t there to open,” he told the Leader, “So they’ve made a decision to close until the restrictions are lifted and the 8pm curfew is gone.”
Even for venues which remain trading, they may now only open a few days a week.
The president of the Limerick Chamber Donnacha Hurley said it’s very “mentally challenging” for business owners at the moment.
“Trying to decide you have enough staff to open, am I going to have enough guests? It’s very difficult,” said the boss of the Absolute Hotel, “People are having to balance up the health and safety of their team along with the financial and logistics of running an operation to decide if it’s worthwhile to open. Health and safety is critical, but it’s also a mix of viability, profitability and operational resilience.”
Mr Hurley has admitted he is weighing up allowing his guests order take-away food and eat it in the restaurant of his city centre hotel, should he have to close the restaurant due to staff shortages.
Mr Flannery concluded: “It’s all about survival and doing what we can. If it means closing in the short-term to stay open in the long term, many will be making that decision right now.”
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