A GROUP of bars in Cork has set up a first-of-its-kind Covid-19 testing system to ensure “peace of mind” for staff and customers alike.
The Rearden’s Group of Bars, which includes Rearden’s, the Oliver Plunkett, Chambers, and Preachers Bar, has commenced a daily programme of Covid-19 antigen testing for all members of staff.
The Rearden’s Group’s 200 employees are antigen tested at a dedicated facility, which is located alongside Preachers Bar, and cannot attend work until they receive a negative result.
All members of staff are paid to attend work 30 minutes before their shift when they head to the facility where they take an antigen test under supervision.
Staff cannot go to work or enter the premises they work in without a green armband to signal that their test was negative.
The testing system officially began this week and according to Rearden’s Group general manager John Styles, their aim is to ensure both staff and customers feel safe and comfortable.
Mr Styles said the idea came about following concerns around the Delta variant and their young staff, in addition to the move to indoor dining.
“We have a lot of young people in here and we were concerned, and we don’t need an outbreak in the venue,” he said.
“It’s important that now that we’ve gone indoors, that we can facilitate people properly indoors.”
Though the process is expensive, Mr Styles said the company believes the staff and customers deserve safety and it could be the future for large events.
A number of medical students who are all also staff members from across the group oversee the testing progress.
Medical student Caoileann Nic a Bháird, who worked as a waitress at the Oliver Plunkett prior to the creation of the facility, said they see more than 120 members of staff tested per day.
“I think a lot of people come in a bit nervous because it makes everything very kind of real,” she said.
“But then they’re all very relieved when they go to work, and I think it’s nice to be able to go into work and be able to know ‘OK, well I’m not putting anyone in danger here. I can serve everyone very safely’ and it’s actually a nice feeling.”
Staff conduct the antigen test themselves under the supervision of those manning the testing system.
They see their results within 15 minutes and if they are positive, they are sent for a PCR test immediately.
Thankfully, there has not yet been a positive test.
Rearden’s duty manager Abbie Murray described the process as “quick and easy”.
“You go in there and it’s done within 10 or 15 minutes,” she said.
“It’s just basically for peace of mind. You know you’re coming in here, you know you’re coming into a safe environment and it’s the same with the customers.”