Concerns for future of local businesses as fears pubs will stay closed

Retailers react: Firms duck for cover as lockdown looms

Liam Cosgrove

Reporter:

Liam Cosgrove

Email:

liam.cosgrove@longfordleader.ie

Concerns for future of local businesses as fears pubs will stay closed

Catastrophic, devastating and terrible.

They were three of the metaphors used to describe how Longford's business community will likely be impacted by six weeks of impending Level 5 lockdown.

The gloomy analogies came less than 24 hours after Taoiseach Micheal Martin announced to the nation of how the country was facing into its second lockdown in the space of seven months.

“It's terrible,” conceded a despondent sounding Matt O'Brien of Matt O'Brien Fashions on Tuesday morning.

“Clearly I would prefer to stay open but we will make the best of it and hope our online business carries us through November until we open again.

“It's coming into what would be our busiest time of the year but this has been done for people's health and the greater good.”

Mr O'Brien said for all the travails confronting Longford's retail industry, the time for togetherness and common solidarity was arguably more acute than ever before. “I would imagine most places will be like ourselves and pull through,” he added.

“I hate to see and I hope businesses don't close and I'd like to think that most who have got through the past year will be resilient enough to keep going.”

Under the sweeping measures, all non essential businesses are being asked to close their doors from tonight (midnight) ahead of what is readily viewed as being retailers busiest time of the year.

It means cafes, restaurants and eateries will be confined to offering take-away options only with so-called 'wet pubs' also staring down the economic barrell of enforced closure.

And, according to local publican Andy Byrne, the bleak prospect of licensed premises remaining closed over the Christmas period could be set to become a sobering reality.

“I don't honestly think they will,” said Mr Byrne when asked if pubs willbe allowed reopen this side of Christmas.

“If they do let us reopen,we could be back to square one by January 1 again.”

In order to circumvent the fiscal hardship confronting pubs, Mr Byrne said there was an onus on government chiefs to ensure financial institutions “played ball” with the newly enforced restrictions.

“They need to put a freeze on loans and mortgages when all this is going on,” he said.

“It wasn't too long ago that the people bailed out the banks and now that favour needs to be returned.”

If Mr Byrne's despair at the looming promise of six weeks away from the day to day running of his business was palpable, it was undeniably matched by the sentiments of Laura Fitzpatrick of Laura's Hair Salon.

“What can you say?”Ms Fitzpatrick asked dejectedly.

“All I am concerned about is looking after my regular customers today and tomorrow, that's all you can do and hopefully this will be all over in six weeks.

“I have been doing everything right since July but I just think it's madness the schools are allowed open especially secondary schools.”

One of those firms deemed 'essential' service station owner, Paddy Hanlon of Hanlon's Gala was equally candid in his appraisal of the long term ramifications facing Longford's beleagured retail industry.

“There is only one answer, it's fairly devastating,” he confided.

“I know I'm one of the lucky ones in being able to stay open but I would be very worried and worried for the future of business in general going forward.”