Businesses still uncertain about opening of indoor hospitality

‘I’m a bit sceptical . . . It worked pretty well last year, but we didn’t have to ask people if they’re vaccinated’

“At at the end of the day family need to go out and eat together, and start to go back to normality.” Photograph: Getty Images

“At at the end of the day family need to go out and eat together, and start to go back to normality.” Photograph: Getty Images

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Despite legislation passing through the Seanad on Friday to facilitate indoor hospitality there is still a feeling of uncertainty among businesses as discussions between officials and the sector to finalise arrangements resume this week.

“We can’t take reservations yet because we don’t know what to do, if indoors dining will be possible or not,” says Orla Fox owner of Fox’s of Kinvara a restaurant on the shores of Galway Bay.

However, she is very grateful to be open for outdoor dining after being closed for so long and is busy with staycationers.

Ms Fox said although business has been busy during lunch and the afternoon “it’s very difficult for dining – it’s not comfortable eating in the cold and the rain”.

“We changed our menu so people don’t have to wait for too long, but we want to show what we can do, you know.”

With all savings gone after many months of closures, the businesswoman, who has run the restaurant for over four years, hopes vaccinations will bring the resumption of indoor dining. However, she is still cautions as “everything changes so quickly”.

Around the corner in Keogh’s bar and restaurant, staff member Clarie Talbot, who has worked there for the last four years, remains unsure if indoor dining will reopen.

“I’m a bit sceptical that it’s going to open at all. It worked pretty well last year, but we didn’t have to ask people if they’re vaccinated or anything like that. Because some people around here are against the vaccine so I’m sceptical about that. But I’m sure it will be grand once we get into the flow.”

Asked about unvaccinated children dining indoors, a point which has seen a difference in Government and public health advice, she says it is hard to have people outside with their children given the frequent cold weather. “It would be terrible trying to bring out your kids for a family dinner but you couldn’t because they’re not vaccinated,” she says.

Further up Galway Bay in Clarenbridge, Sarahann Kealy has been running the Goat’s Lane Cafe for 11 years.

While she is “delighted to be back” to outdoor dining she acknowledges it has been difficult serving without much space in their back garden area.

As she hopes for a resumption of indoor dining, the likely accompanying social distancing measures will mean fewer tables. “We will be losing two tables in the back and six people here, so where they are able to sit 20 people we will go down to 12 people.”

As for welcoming children inside the cafe, she says: “At at the end of the day family need to go out and eat together, and start to go back to normality. They should go out and eat together.”

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