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15 Aug 2022

'Madness' - Offaly publican blasts latest Covid-19 restrictions

Offaly along with the rest of the country has once again moved to Level 5 under the Government's Plan for living with Covid.

"Madness," is how Paul Bell of the Brewery Tap in Tullamore described the latest restrictions announced on Tuesday.

Paul has a full menu at his pub and was booked up until January 2.

However, as the new guidelines required restaurants and pubs operating as restaurants to close at 3pm on Christmas Eve, he said he will not open at all that day and will have to begin to ring patrons to cancel bookings.

"Giving us a day and half notice; they told us they would give us plenty of time but two days before is madness. So we are not going to open at all, it wouldn't be worth our while," he said.

Paul employs up to 25 people at the Brewery Tap. "They are all off again for the foreseeable future," he said.

Meanwhile Kara Kearns, of Kode Clothing and Footwear on Patrick Street, Tullamore, was in shock when the government announced that post Christmas sales would not be permitted.

Normally Kode hold their sale the day after St Stephen's Day and it's a chance for women to pick up great bargains. It's also an opportunity to clear winter stock to make way for Spring and Summer collections.

"We constantly get deliveries all year round and we can't cancel deliveries. We have to work with suppliers, we don't want them left with stock," said Kara.

Even though clothing shops will be allowed to remain open Kara thinks the town will be very quiet after Christmas and there will be a "knock-on" effect for clothing shops.

She is hopeful that gift vouchers bought in the lead up to Christmas will generate some business in the New Year.

Kara described trade as "steady" since her shop reopened. "80% of people are trying to support local shops. People want businesses to survive. The support has been amazing," she added.

The new restrictions will mean from December 24 visitors from just two other households will be allowed. From January 1 there should be no visitors.

People will be allowed to travel outside the county from December 24 but from December 27 they will not be permitted to do so, except to return home after Christmas. There should be no travelling outside the county from January 1.

Cafes, restaurants and pubs operating as restaurants will have to stop serving food from 3pm on Christmas Eve. Delivery and take-away can continue

From December 27 places of worship will only be open for private and online worship.

Retail will not be permitted to hold sales. However, they can remain open.

A maximum of 25 will be allowed to attend weddings up to December 27. From January 3 a maximum of 6 will be allowed.

Hotels can serve food to non-guests until 3pm on Christmas Eve and from January 1 to guests only.

At Level 5, the public health risk means that people will be asked to stay at home, with certain exceptions. There will be no gatherings other than small numbers at funerals and weddings.

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