Crumbs owner Colleen Blessing (centre) with Clare McTigue on left and Caitlin Bann pictured in Carrick-on-Shannon Picture: Gerry Faughnan
This week saw a return to indoor hospitality across the nation and while many were only too delighted to return to the bar stool for a long awaited pint, the majority of Leitrim restaurants chose to opt for outdoor dining only.
Most local restaurants, hotels and cafes who had adapted to outdoor dining over the past month refused to adhere to “unfair dining rules” which would exclude unvaccinated customers from eating.
Jason Horkan from The Red Bank Restaurant, Carrick-on-Shannon said they would wait at least 3-4 weeks when “more people are vaccinated” before they will consider opening for indoor dining.
He said it would be unfair to ask unvaccinated staff to request vaccination certs from customers.
The Red Bank Restaurant built an all weather outdoor seating area for 70 people to the rear of their premises. Mr Horkan said most people prefer to eat outdoors right now and it allows “everyone to feel comfortable.”
He added the new outdoor area allowed the restaurant to re-employ staff. The restaurant is fully booked for two weeks.
The Riverbank Restaurant in Dromahair is the same, it stated, “We want to wait until we can welcome back all of our customers instead of only some as would be the case if we re-opened now.”
Colleen Blessing from Crumbs in Carrick-on-Shannon said they also took the decision to only facilitate outdoor dining to keep their staff safe.
She said manay of their young staff are not vaccinated. With the new guidelines they would need to employ a full time staff member to check for certs at the door of the building. She said this would be “extra pressure” on already hardworking staff.
Crumbs share an outdoor dining area with DiVinos and enjoyed a busy period over the good weather, which they hope will continue through Summer.
Concern over covid cases locally
Concern has been expressed locally about the number of Covid cases and outbreaks throughout the county.
520 people used the Carrick-on-Shannon Covid test centre last week; 13% of those were positive.
A number of bars and cafes had to close in Leitrim last week due to HSE contact tracing and Covid testing, the majority have been given the all clear to re-open again, but it was a cautious reminder that outbreaks of Covid cases are increasing locally.
Dr Anthony Breslin, Director of Public Health, HSE North West said the new Delta variant is “highly infectious.” He said numbers are at an upward trend at the moment and warned people to “not to congregate in large numbers, to observe social distancing and to continue good handwashing practices” over the Bank Holiday weekend.
The new indoor dining guidelines allows a maximum of six adults allowed at one table, wearing face masks will be mandatory while not seated and only those who have been fully vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 will be allowed to avail of indoor service.
The lead person for each booking will have to give their phone number for contact tracing. The Restaurant Association claimed one in four businesses will not reopen for indoor dining, but that number is much higher in Leitrim this week.
A quick glance around the county at those who posted their details online sees Felim Gurn's Milestone bar in Manorhamilton sticking with outdoor dining.
The Oarsman, Crumbs, Cryans Hotel, Landmark Hotel, The Red Bank Restaurant and Coffey's pastry case in Carrick-on-Shannon along with The Barge Steakhouse, and The Leitrim Inn in Leitrim Village are not re-opening indoor seating for the moment.
Proprietor Frances Cryan of Cryan's Hotel in Carrick-on-Shannon points to her customer notice stating that they are not accommodating indoor dining at the moment. Also pictured (l-r) are Elaine McDermott, Olive Higgins and Jenny McGwynne Picture: Gerry Faughnan
The Jackalope Cafe and Jinny's Bakery & Tearooms, Drumshanbo are also just continuing with outdoor dining only.
The Copper Still in Dromod, Drumcoura City, Bellz Cafe in Mohill and The Riverbank Restaurant, Dromahair will also not be returning to indoor dining for the moment.
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.