Pubs in Listowel are reporting a very positive start to the big reopening – which coincided with the week of the Races in the North Kerry town.
Nowhere near as busy as it would usually have been for the Harvest, Listowel was, nonetheless, just about the busiest town in the entire country for the big re-opening.
That it went right, with most only too happy to observe the COVID rules, speaks well for the immediate future.
Head of the Vintners Association Christy Walsh said his fellow publicans who reopened last week were very pleased with how it all went.
“Once there aren’t reports of any cases next week, we should be well placed. I was open earlier, but the lads who reopened last week were very happy with how it went,” Mr Walsh told The Kerryman. “People were, on the whole, very respectful of the rules, and we were glad in the Vintners with the impact of our messaging about the guidelines in advance of the reopening.”
Liam Canty of Listowel’s well-known bar The Shebeen said he didn’t have to pull a single patron on any point of new COVID etiquette. His method of managing customers stands as a sterling example of how best to do it.
“Everybody was just happy to be out and only too happy to co-operate with the guidelines as a result. It’s been very positive, I have to say.
“It was a relief to finally reopen, and we’re just glad the races and everything went fairly well, with no incidents or anything like that in town. They had been saying places were all booked up, but in the end the numbers who came down were few, and they were extremely co-operative. They understood we were just after opening, too, so were very understanding about it,” Mr Canty said.
He said he was lucky in having the space he has in the bar and the right amount of tables to separate people as required under the guidelines.
“It was a case of a group of lads might come in, and I would give them a minute or two to relax before pushing them to stick to a table. I’d have the book in my hand, get them to fill it in and say ‘alright lads, are ye together?’ If so, great, I’d have them sitting down at a booth before they knew it. You might get the lads standing up after a while for a second but sitting down again to their booth as everyone was very conscious of the rules… So it can be done. I know it’s not the same, and I know lads miss the bar counter, but they just have to get used to it, and they will. You can still talk away, all it is doing is separating people safely.”
It made for one hell of a strange race week in Listowel, though: “While the week was very peaceful it was strange to see the streets so empty. Normally I’d be leaving the bar after 2.30am having cleaned up, but going home around midnight and seeing the streets empty, no smell of chips or burgers…it was strange. We all had the butterflies opening up in race week, but thankfully it has been a very positive experience, and it makes us feel more confident now.”