LOCAL publicans were delighted to finally reopen their doors again and welcome their customers back on Monday for the first time in six long months.
Thirsty punters were over the moon to get back into their local pubs to enjoy a beer or a long-awaited expertly poured pint of the black stuff.
Local pubs, like thousands around the country, have been closed since March due to Covid-19 restrictions and were overjoyed to be allowed to finally start pulling pints again for their customers yesterday.
Happy customers in McKeown Bar on Clanbrassil Street enjoyed a few well-deserved pints on Monday while adhering to safety measures after the popular pub in town opened its door for the first time in six months.
Pat McKeown, the owner of McKeowns Bar told the Democrat that he was “quite emotional” reopening after so long and was delighted to be able to welcome his customers back and see “old faces and friends” again.
“It is just brilliant, it is fantastic to be up and running again”, Pat said yesterday.
“It was wonderful to open our door and welcome our regular customers back again after six months. There is a great buzz in the pub and our customers are delighted to be back and we are delighted to have them back. There are plenty of thirsty customers in – it is great to see all the old faces and friends.
“We have been trading for 50 years and we wouldn’t even take a day off really so being closed for so long was very strange.
“It was quite emotional reopening today and seeing everyone again.
“It is amazing to be back up and running and we have been getting great support from our customers.
“Long may it stay open; I know the amount of cases in the area is high but hopefully we will remain open.
“Pubs play an important part for people in the community to be able to socialise and it is great to see our regulars back and enjoying a pint.
Wet pubs, which reopened on Monday across the country apart from Dublin, will see a number of new restrictions in place including limits on customer numbers, social distancing measures and enhanced cleaning regimes around the bar.
And gone are the days of sitting at the bar while enjoying a drink.
Under guidelines it will be table service only and groups will be limited to six people from three different households, with distancing of one metre.
If a premise can implement two metre distancing, the 105 minute time limit for customers can be waived, however, all customers are to be off the premises by 11.30pm.
The Vintners' Federation Chief Executive Padraig Cribben said the reopening of pubs is a good news story, particularly for owners and staff who have been out of work for six months.
He said the move will also have significant mental health benefits for customers in rural areas, who will be able to meet others in a "safe, socially distanced, controlled environment".
He called on all publicans to ensure guidelines are enforced so that there can be a collective effort to beat the threat posed by Covid-19.