Businesses across Killarney joined together in a show of solidarity last Thursday following the devastating blow to the hospitality industry in the form of news that indoor dining would not re-open on July 5.
hough July 19 has now been signalled to allow indoor dining resume, this is not guaranteed and is currently reliant on the use of vaccine passports or certificates to allow those who are vaccinated to dine indoors.
Both the Restaurants Association of Ireland and the Vintners Association have called on the Government to give a clear time-line and plan for re-opening indoor dining.
In Killarney, the call has been similar. Denis Murphy and Deirdre Browne of Murphy Brownes in Killarney led the demonstration on Thursday. Utterly frustrated and angry at last week’s announcement by the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, they want to know when they can open their doors again.
While many restaurants and pubs can offer outdoor dining, there are hundreds still unable to provide these services.
“We just want a definite date…The demonstration was a show of solidarity, to get together as everyone is in the same boat…It is so frustrating,” said Denis.
For both Denis and Deirdre, the key question is why hotels are allowed to offer indoor dining.
“Hotels are open. I am not criticising them, but you have hotels right beside you serving indoors just because people are sleeping upstairs, and we are lying here idle. It is so frustrating. Now you have this idea of vaccinated/unvaccinated and hotels are not differentiating, it is bizarre to the lay person…Tell me the difference,” said Deirdre.
The announcement last week that indoor dining would not re-open has led to the cancellation of hundreds of bookings across the county, putting those who are serving outdoors under further pressure to accommodate the thousands who are holidaying in Killarney and Kerry.
Many visitors are now left wandering the streets, with no place to eat.
It is not only the hospitality industry that has been hit by the news; suppliers across the county who have been left with foods and drinks waste and a huge financial hit.
Even local business who supply stationary and menus are taking a hit. Killarney Chamber of Commerce and Tourism did not organise the event on Thursday but said it fully endorses the call for businesses to pull together, and it understands the disappointment felt.
However, it said public-health advice must be heeded.