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09 Dec 2021

Longford pubs crisis: ‘There will be an awful lot more casualties’ as Covid fears intensify

Longford pubs crisis

A Longford publican has urged members of the public to come out and support local businesses, warning retailers and licensed premises “cannot wait for a Christmas rush” to keep their doors open

A Longford publican has warned of an “awful lot more casualties” facing the county's licensed trade amid heightening fears government bosses will postpone the further easing of restrictions this week.

John Duignan, proprietor of Longford town's Tally-Ho bar, issued the sobering prognosis in the wake of figures released over the weekend that showed Longford is the county with the lowest number of pubs nationwide.

The figures, circulated by Vintners’ Federation of Ireland (VFI) and Licenced Vintners’ Association (LVA), showed how the ongoing fallout from Covid-19 had brought with it a total of seven pub closures from January 2020 to September 2021.

Mr Duignan, while keen to stress his comments were being made from a personal standpoint and not on behalf of Longford Vitners Association, said the crisis affecting the county's pubs industry had never been as grave.

“The issues we are facing are unprecedented, we have never dealt with issues like we are facing now, this is too serious and there are so many different opinions,” he said.

A large proportion of those issues, alluded to by the Longford publican, have come as a result of a gradual rise in confirmed cases of Covid-19.

Over the past seven days, National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) officials have routinely reported daily case numbers reaching in the region of 2,000.

To add to those anxieties, Longford last week recorded the country's highest 14-day incidence rate of Covid-19 courtesy of 181 cases over a seven day period and a total of 302 over the last fortnight.

Mr Duignan said the rise in case numbers allied to a simmering disquiet among the wider public had led to a sharp fall-off in footfall.

“I would have expected the numbers (of pub closures) would have been even higher,” he said.

“Things are not great, business is not good. Two weeks ago we thought we were on the way back but over the past two weeks things have taken a dramatic turn for the worse.

“It's the number of cases, people are still not confident enough to go out, it's a major problem.”

Mr Duignan revealed a scarcity of taxis had only served to compound the situation, stressing the onus was now on consumers to come to the aid of hard-pressed publicans and retailers alike.

“We are still in a better place than we were last year, but we would be encouraging people to come back and to support those businesses that have adhered to the restrictions,” he added.

Mr Duignan insisted those rallying cries were not made impudently or with a view towards grabbing headlines, but rather as a last ditch attempt to aid those businesses that “cannot wait for a Christmas rush” to save themselves from financial extinction.

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