‘Low-key’ reopening of indoor dining in Cork as Taoiseach warns of need to 'stay agile' in response to virus

‘Low-key’ reopening of indoor dining in Cork as Taoiseach warns of need to 'stay agile' in response to virus

Mary O'Regan, Dromahane and John O'Keeffe, Ballydesmond are served indoors by Michael O'Sullivan manager and Victoria Brennan at Clancy's bar and restaurant on Princess street Cork

A SIGNIFICANT number of bars and restaurants in Cork reopened for indoor hospitality for certain groups yesterday, with one Cork publican describing the reopening as “low-key”.

Clancy’s on Princes St was among the venues which yesterday began welcoming those who are fully vaccinated and those who have recovered from Covid within the last six months back indoors.

Speaking to The Echo, owner Paul Montgomery said indoor bookings were steady.

“It was a lovely morning obviously so people were mainly happy outside.

“All our available seats have been busy indoors up until lunch which is good, but it’s been low-key,” he said.

“I don’t think it has been a frenzy because the weather has been so good people haven’t been discommoded over the last number of weeks anyway.”

Mr Montgomery reported a high level of compliance from the public with the new regulations, saying that the venue had not yet encountered a situation where an unvaccinated person had attempted to secure a table indoors.

“We’re following the regulations as they’ve been laid out. It’s working fine and we haven’t had any issues.”

Mr Montgomery welcomed a last-minute change to the Fáilte Ireland guidelines stating that only the lead person for each booking would have to give their phone number for contact tracing, as opposed to everyone.

“That’s welcome. It makes things a bit easier,” he said.

While many bars and restaurants reopened for indoor hospitality yesterday, others made the decision not to reopen to indoor hospitality just yet.

Aideen Mitchell and staff at the Oliver Plunkett bar as they resumed serving people indoors. 
Aideen Mitchell and staff at the Oliver Plunkett bar as they resumed serving people indoors. 

Speaking in Cork yesterday, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said he respects the decision of some businesses to not reopen for indoor hospitality this week.

“We’ve managed the outdoor hospitality very well, and many people have adapted their business operations to optimise their revenue through the outdoor dining,” he said.

“I respect their decision [of businesses], of course, if they feel they’re not ready to reopen [indoors]. Each business has to manage its own affairs in accordance with their operational capacity and their own objectives.”

Asked if he himself would feel comfortable in an indoor environment, Mr Martin said: “The answer is yes, I would, with close family. I’d be very careful, and I would say to the public at large, we have made good progress in the last six months in reopening sectors of society. We have done it cautiously. We want to protect that progress. So, even though we are opening indoor dining and hospitality, with the vaccinated having access, we still have to be very, very careful.

“There is a Delta variant that is highly transmissible and we just have to protect ourselves. I think the ideal situation is the continued rollout of the vaccination programme, combined with sensible precautionary behaviour on all our parts. That’s the area where we can defeat this virus.”

Michael and Valerie Kent, Dublin Pike are served indoors by Aine Mullins at Clancy's bar and restaurant on Princess street. 
Michael and Valerie Kent, Dublin Pike are served indoors by Aine Mullins at Clancy's bar and restaurant on Princess street. 

Regarding the possibility of hospitality potentially having to close again, should Covid case numbers and hospitalisations rise significantly, Mr Martin said while it’s not their intention to go backwards, “we have to be agile” in responding to the virus.

“We opened up society slowly and cautiously with a view to maintaining that and not having to go back and close. Our intention is not to go back. That said, we have been very agile throughout the pandemic. We’ve had to make different moves at different times,” he said.

“On this occasion, it’s different because we have so many people vaccinated that we didn’t at the close of last year. That’s a powerful weapon — 316,000 [people] last week vaccinated. This is a new phase of the pandemic and in every phase we have to respond differently. But, we have to be agile enough to respond, and people have to adhere to the guidance and adhere to the regulations.”

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