Rising Covid infections combined with restrictions have devastated the local hospitality industry.
Across the county's towns and villages, pubs, hotels and restaurants have chosen to close their doors temporarily in what has baeen a very difficult start to 2022.
Last week The Landmark Hotel in Carrick-on-Shannon announced that it would be closed from January 4 until early February.
In a Facebook post, they noted: “Due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation, restrictions and the significant increase in Covid-19 cases in our community we have made the difficult decision to close the Hotel to the general public from Tuesday 4th January 2022 until Wednesday 2nd February 2022.
“Our priority is the safety and wellbeing of our staff and you our customers during these unprecedented times.”
But hotels are not the only ones to be hit hard by the combination of the widespread rise of Covid-19 infections, booking cancellations and shorter opening hours.
Well known pub, Gurn's Milestone Bar in Manorhamilton also confirmed on social media that they were closing for the first time since the Gurn family took over the business in 1964.
“After a long hard thought decision, we took the decision that we will be closing from Wednesday the 5th of January and we will reopen on Friday the 14th of January. This decision was taking into account the pressure put on our staff throughout the Xmas period and we believe it is essential to close to give staff a break, and also the rising Covid cases and the current restrictions on hospitality trading hours. We would like to thank everyone for all their support throughout the Xmas period and throughout all of 2021. We hope to be once again be supported and respected in our decision.”
Fellow Manorhamilton pub, Heraghty's Bar, has also made the decision to close temporarily noting: “Heraghty's Pub will reopen Thursday, the 3rd of February, or sooner if the 8pm curfew is lifted. We'd like to thank you all sincerely for your continued support.”
Restaurants have also felt the impact of Covid numbers and restrictions. The reduced opening hours coupled with an increase in last minute cancellations have made business incredibly difficult.
Popular Carrick-on- Shannon eatery, BR Bistro posted news of their decision to temporarily close on Facebook: “We have decided to close our restaurant for the next few weeks or until new guidelines are put in place,” they announced.
“All our bookings are being cancelled on regular basis and given the covid numbers are so high in the community, gives us no other option but to close for a while and come back stronger and better then ever.”
This follows the “heartbreaking decision” last month by award-winning chef, Shamzuri (Sham) Hanifa that his restaurant The Cottage in Jamestown will remain closed until February “or whenever the restrictions are lifted.”
“We made this decision as we cannot trade properly and deliver the quality service that we wish to under the current guidelines. We want to thank all our customers for your continuous support. We promise we will be back stronger & better,” he noted on The Cottage Facebook page.
The popular cafe, Lena's Tea Room in Carrick-on-Shannon has also postponed their planned post Christmas reopening in the last week.
In Ballinamore, The Poor Scholar Bar closed its doors on December 26 “due to the rising cases locally.” They stated they had decided to remain closed until further notice “to keep the community safe.” No re-opening date has been announced yet.
The rising Covid figures have also impacted the post Christmas reopening of community centres and afterschool activities such as music and dancing classes.
Gyms have also cancelled group classes and some sporting clubs have postponed training or holding their fundraising draws as the Omicron variant spreads.
Hospitality industry hit hard
The last two years have been exceptionally challenging for businesses in the hospitality industry. Not only have they had to face ongoing bills such as rent and insurance, they have also been hit hard by the various lockdowns imposed to try and control the spread of Covid-19.
Since March 2020, pubs, restaurants, cafes and hotels have faced significant periods of forced closures and these businesses have also struggled to retain staff who have been laid off for lengthy periods as a result of restrictions.
The most recent round of restrictions introduced in mid-December have seen the hospitality industry forced to close at 8pm each night. This could not have come at a worse time for them as many of these businesses rely on increased Christmas trade to carry them through the quieter start to the New Year.
Even those businesses which have opted to remain open have been hit by Covid-19 outbreaks amongst staff leading to temporary closures, staffing shortages and additional pressures.
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