THE rug of normality has been pulled from under the nation, leaving many feeling disorientated, anxious, and unnerved.
On the streets of Cork, Leesiders are adapting to a new society.
Shutters down and padlocks on doors have suddenly become ubiquitous.
Buses, with just one or two passengers onboard, signify that these, indeed, are unprecedented times in which we are living.
Today, town was gently moving, with a few couples, families, and individuals popping in to get the essentials.
Perhaps the most unusual thing about the ‘new normal’ is how quiet and still it is.
There are no buskers on the streets, no music to be heard from retail stores; the familiar sounds of the city have been paused.
It is as if Cork has been put on mute.
In a bid to maintain a semblance of the ordinary in these extraordinary times, a handful of businesses have decided to remain open for as long as they can.
Cork’s English Market, which has served the people of Cork for 230 years and endured in the face of famine, flooding, and fire, remains open during this new, more obscure threat.
“We’re made of tough stuff. We’re not softies by any means, we’ve been through it all,” stallholder Pat O’Connell told The Echo.
Mr O’Connell, who owns K O’Connell Fish Merchants, said the business is following all the recommended HSE and government guidelines when it comes to hygiene practices and staff are keeping their distance from each other during their shifts at the Market.
Security personnel are now also stationed at the entrances of the Market, counting people as they walk in to ensure the Market does not become crowded.
While trading is undoubtedly down, Mr O’Connell said the stall is still “ticking over”.
K O’Connell has now begun delivering fresh fish to people who cannot travel into the city. “This has worked really well. It’s just about trying to think outside the box as we’re in unchartered waters right now,” said Mr O’Connell.
Likewise, many other traders have found innovative ways to remain operable.
Popular city-centre cafe Nash 19 is operating a takeaway service only, supplying customers with sandwiches, coffee, and gourmet takeaway meals.
Dockland on Lapp’s Quay has also established a contactless collection service.
The popular eatery began accepting orders from yesterday and customers will be able to collect from the Dockland Deli yesterday by parking up outside, staying in their car and having their order placed in the boot.
Tabletop, the board-game cafe on Castle St, is still keeping Cork people entertained despite being closed.
A sign in the window of the business is advising customers to ‘Be safe. Be Kind. Play games’, notifying the public that board games can be purchased via their website.
And, cognisant of the importance of minding our mental health during these challenging times, many people are making the effort to get some fresh air.
They are heeding Dr Doireann O’Leary’s advice that “social distancing doesn’t mean housebound”.
Indeed these are unprecedented times, but there are already signs that we are prevailing.
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