Story of the month: Longford reopens for business
There was an air of renewed but guarded optimism throughout Longford on Monday, May 18, as phase one of the reopening of the Irish economy got underway after months of lockdown.
Longford Chamber of Commerce President Niamh Donlon explained that, while it was pleasing to see some businesses returning to trade, she cautioned ‘it will be along and slow recovery’ and she wasn’t wrong.
Ms Donlon added, “It is important that every possible support and aid is made available to businesses, especially in retail and hospitality, as they likely face the steepest curve.”
A ‘Covid-19 Regional Economic Analysis’ study, compiled by the three Regional Assemblies of Ireland, starkly suggested that Longford would fare a lot worse economically than most parts of the country.
The county possessed the eighth highest exposure ratio (50%) in the country, while Edgeworthstown, with a 56.7% exposure ratio is ranked 13th of the Top 15 towns exposed to significant economic disruption caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.
The national average for towns was 46% and Longford had three towns above that figure - Longford town (47.7%), Ballymahon (51%) and Edgeworthstown.
The Chamber President pointed out that the detail of the Business Restart Scheme was slowly becoming available and she expressed concern that many businesses might not be able to access it.
The Business Restart Scheme was rolled out during the course of last summer, allowing businesses who had been forced to shut down during the country’s first major lockdown to access grants that would help them to get back on their feet.
Huge Covid-19 spike
While the country was looking at an easing of lockdown restrictions, Longford was only just getting started following a dramatic spike in Covid-19 cases.
On Monday, May 4, a whopping 60 new cases were revealed in Longford, following a major infection among workers in a local meat factory.
This was the county’s largest daily increase in Covid-19 figures up until that date, with previous increases being relatively small up until then. There have been no spikes to that scale in the county since.
Gardaí in stand-off
The front page of the first edition in May led with a story of how gardaí were in genuine fear for their lives a week earlier in what a local Sergeant had described as “the most frightening experience” he has ever had as a guard.
Two local members of An Garda Síochána had to put out urgent calls for assistance from the Armed Support Unit while conducting a planned search operation at a property in Edgeworthstown, where a number of family members advanced on them, assaulting one of them.
The family of the late Danny McGee, who tragically lost his life in November 2018 as a result of a one-punch assault, were trying to have legislation passed in New York, which would see one-punch attacks become a felony as opposed to a misdemeanor.
The news came soon after the Dublin man who was jailed for the incident was released early due to a Covid-19 outbreak.