30 Nov 2021

Mixed views as Longford's pubs and salons react to Covid-19 reopening green light

Iconic Longford bar Edward J Valentine's closing in response to coronavirus crisis

Eddie Valentine outside his bar in Longford town Picture: Michelle Ghee

The Government’s decision to fast-track the reopening of hairdressers, beauty salons and pubs has come in for mixed reaction as moves to kickstart Longford’s local economy gather pace.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar gave the go-ahead last Friday for hairdressers, churches, cinemas and gyms to open their doors next Monday (June 29) following discussions with the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet).

Under the original roadmap, hairdressers were due to reopen on July 20 but that date has been forward as part of the State’s revised phase three timeframe.

It was a decision which was given a resounding thumbs up from local businesswoman and hair salon owner Colette Reynolds.

“I think it was the right call,” she said, as she alluded to how the move would bring about an upturn in consumer sentiment.

“It will mean so much for mental health and people will feel so much better because getting their hair done just hasn’t been an option for the past three months or so.”

The proprietor of Longford’s Hair Square outlet, Ms Reynolds admitted the universal reopening of hairdressers and other facilities of its ilk would be vastly different from what had been enjoyed in the lead up to Covid-19.

“I am 35 years at it (hairdressing) and there’s no doubt this will be a whole new chapter in the way hairdressers operate but I really believe it will be a positive chapter,” she said.

Pubs that serve food have also been given the green light to reopen on June 29.

For some, like Longford town’s Eddie Valentine more clarity needs to be provided by health chiefs in order to keep the virus at bay.

“The first thing I have to make sure of is the safety of my staff and customers and to see what the guidelines are from the HSE,” he said.

“It will take a good bit of time to get things ready and I won't be opening on June 29 because we need to get things right and to have everything made to measure, to ensure social distancing is in place.”

Plans are similarly afoot to allow pubs reduce social distancing to just one metre if they limit patrons to just 90 minutes inside their premises.

Those measures have come in for criticism from vintners and publicans like Mr Valentine who argued this was not enough time for people to enjoy a meal or watch a full soccer game.

“These (guidelines) are not being made up by business people and I know it's being done to stop the virus but if you come into a bar to watch a match you will stay longer than 105 minutes,” he said.

“It's about making a safe environment for everyone, making people feel comfortable and not having to police people.”

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