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22 May 2022

Dundalk publicans 'relieved' as restrictions lifted

Dundalk publicans 'relieved' as restrictions lifted

Mark Dearey, owner of the Spirit Store

Local publicans are delighted to have their customers back for business as usual. 

On Friday last, Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced that pubs and restaurants will be able to return to their normal working hours while nightclubs will once again be allowed to re-open fully.

A sense of “relief” was the overriding emotion felt by Spirit Store owner Mark Dearey when he learned of the lifting of most Covid restrictions.

“While, of course, I understood it was all necessary, and I agreed with the measures and get why there was particular attention paid to the hospitality sector by NPHET; It’s a great relief that we’re not having to poke into people’s lives before we serve them anymore,” he told the Democrat.

Neither setting will be required to ask for a Covid-19 vaccination or recovery cert or implement social distancing rules.

Only a small number of restrictions remain in place, including the continued requirement to wear masks in settings such as shops, schools and on public transport; self-isolation rules; and the use of Covid passes for international travel.

“I actually didn’t realise how much of a pressure it was on us all every single day before we served anybody to actually have to ask them for documents, especially for the younger ones [members of staff],” Mark said.

With the restrictions officially lifted at 6am on Saturday morning, pubs across the country were reporting solid trading over the weekend.

Cormac O’Carroll, owner of Tata’s in Seatown, reported good numbers on Saturday night:

“A lot of the regulars were back, Sunday was average, Saturday night was the big one really, I had no problem getting them in, I had a problem getting them out,” he joked.

“We’re very very happy to see customers and delighted to get the bar stools back up at the bar.

“We came through it now and we’re going to work hard on getting everything back to normal.”

The Spirit store similarly reported good footfall:

“We were busy Saturday and Sunday, there was a big recovery absolutely, people were really enjoying coming in, you wouldn’t have noticed before, but things like sitting at a bar give people great pleasure.

“There was a real happiness on the part of customers. They were literally cheering as they sat down at the bar.

“At one stage during Saturday night, customers broke into a round of applause for us all.”

The relative certainty has also made it easier for the venue to plan for the future.

“A big thing for us is that we can start planning gigs properly now, which is a huge part of our business

“We have Joanne McNally this weekend and we originally sold the gig on the basis of having half an audience, but now hopefully we’ll be able to put some extra tickets on sale and the same for all gigs going forward.”

Mark also welcomed the extension of Covid supports for a few extra months:

“The government supports staying in place for a bit longer, gives us that time to get back to trading at full capacity and help us repair our balance sheet.

“Obviously we’ve been hit so much, and we lost so much trade over December and it’s going to take a while to get that back, but things like the wage subsidy scheme will really help,” he concluded.

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