Hospitality trade can lead Limerick out of lockdown

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Cllr Olivia O'Sullivan, Fine Gael. Photo: Cian Reinhardt

RESTAURANTS can lead Limerick out of the Covid-19 lockdown and it’s time to start planning for it now, according to city councillor and food ambassador Olivia O’Sullivan.

The City North representative said she was urging restaurants, hotels, and gastro bars to look at how they might be able to reopen with social distancing arrangements and further reassuring measures in place for the public.

“I am backing calls for government supports for the sector. It may be two years before they operate properly again, we need these small-medium businesses, who are huge employers in the region, to survive this – many in the sector won’t,” she said.

“We know pubs are in an extremely difficult position; restaurants should be able to provide relief when it is safe to start reopening some businesses, once they can afford to do so with reduced capacity. This will mean resourcing them so they can get staff back to work and get the industry up off its knees.

“Businesses have already been responding, offering pre-ordering and collection, and this week the Greenhills and Strand Hotels for example are both starting takeaway offerings. Hotels, cafes and restaurants want to be part of the solution but finding a way to reopen for many will be difficult.

Restrictions will mean limited capacity, and probably pre-booked slots for tables accommodating only family groups. Closing hours will likely have to be earlier,” she explained.

“Protecting staff delivering food to tables will be paramount and also to avoid cross-contamination so sufficient PPE will have to be looked at for that, masks and gloves are an obvious starting point. Will Perspex screens play a role here also as we have seen used in many other areas?

All businesses will have to audit their own space to assess how they could manage. A system in place for contact tracing may be needed. In order for the public to have the reassurance it will need to get back into these venues, video walkthroughs could be used online so customers can visualize the new system, and cleaning routines could be outlined and support the businesses,” Cllr O’Sullivan concluded.