Limerick returns to business through the government’s roadmap to reopening the country, after nearly three months of closure
Update: Limerick business prepares for earlier reopening of Hotels & Shopping Centres – Retention of Financial Support in this phase critical, says Chamber CEO
Limerick Chamber welcomes this afternoon’s announcement (5 June 2020) that the “Roadmap to Re-Opening the Economy” will be escalated and compressed to four stages, rather than five, and that we can now progress to Phase Two.
Speaking this afternoon, Chief Executive of Limerick Chamber, Dee Ryan said, “Our shoulders are to the wheel to assist our colleagues in the retail and hospitality sector in particular to maximise their opportunities to trade over the summer months. Limerick hotels are available for bookings and have competitive rates on offer, we are hoping to capitalise on the staycation market as people choose Irish city breaks. There is great value and great experiences to be had as we encourage visitors to discover our historic city on foot or by bike.”
The Chamber will engage with the Local Authority to ensure that measures to animate the City streets and promote footfall in urban areas can commence in line with the new expected dates for reopening of Hotels, with animations being installed from 29th June.
Dee Ryan said, “Getting the balance right between supporting the local economy and livelihoods, while also protecting public health, is no easy task and we will continue to work with Limerick businesses to ensure that they have all the support they need to adhere to the Return to Work Safely Protocol and other HSE guidance.”
Continuing, she added, “There are few businesses that have not been negatively impacted by the crisis and so the announcement today of the extension of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme, which has been a lifeline, will allow employers to plan with certainty as we move to new normal trading. As we move to Phase Two, we call on Government and local elected representatives to work with us in determining what interventions will be required to support different Limerick business sectors, including retail, manufacturing, tourism, and hospitality.”
Limerick slowly returns to business through government recovery plan
By I Love Limerick Correspondent Mary Doyle
With the second phase of the government’s plan to ease Covid-19 restrictions to be enforced next week, it is with careful attention that Limerick returns to business. It has been nearly three months since non-essential traders were forced to close as a result of the rapid-spreading Covid-19 virus, and the likes of garden centres, hardware stores, coffee shops, restaurants, and markets have since been rearing to reopen their doors, and are now beginning to do so with new measures in place which put the safety of their customers first.
In the last few weeks, many of Limerick city’s garden centres, hardware stores, and electric outlets specifically have opened again, while enforcing the ‘new normal’ of social distancing and crowd control. Woodies DIY, Harvey Norman, B&Q and Homebase are some of the stores which have, in line with Phase 1, returned to trading, experiencing long queues of eager customers after the longest closure these stores have experienced to date.
— Flannerys Limerick (@FlannerysBar) May 30, 2020
Along with the return of these businesses, the Limerick Milk Market also re-opened on Saturday, May 23, with strict new measures to ensure maximum health and safety including a revised layout of the market and reduced stall numbers. Stallholders at the Milk Market have undertaken additional training and have implemented extra Covid-related protocols such as protective screens and extra contactless mobile payment systems.
Limerick Milk Market General Manager, David Fitzgerald, said, “We have been working since early March on an altered lay-out of our stalls; increased sanitising; and reduced capacity both in stall numbers and customers. In line with Government and HSE protocols for a phased return of food producers providing an essential service, we now look forward to a phased reopening this Saturday with a range of protective measures in place. Our priority is the health of our staff, traders, and customers.”
With a noticeable increase in traffic to Limerick city centre, people are beginning to take advantage of that small amount of extra freedom which has been granted by the government, as the eerie emptiness of the streets of Limerick begins to fade, and signs of somewhat normal life return, slowly but steadily.
Business owners are beginning to be reunited with their formerly regular customers, with new precautions like social distancing, disinfecting, and mask-wearing just some of the elements of the ‘new normal’ that will take getting used to. But one thing hasn’t changed, and that is the strong relationship between traders and their loyal customers who want to support local business in any way they can.
With restaurants and coffee shops reopening for takeaway, while enforcing social distancing and strict hygiene measures, they have now been permitted to make use of street tables and chairs as part of a proposed trial initiative by Limerick City and County Council to support local businesses as the Covid-19 restrictions ease. Other measures planned for this initiative include a food trail to support ‘alfresco’ dining, drive-in gigs and movies, night-time markets, and street performances.
The Council said it will try to “embrace a range of Summer 2020 measures by transforming Limerick into a pop-up urban playground for citizens, allowing performance spaces and programming bespoke activities unique to Limerick”.
“These will range from pedestrianising some of the city centre to facilitating hospitality and other retailers bring their businesses out on the streets and help them trade through the social distancing restrictions that will apply as they resume operations,” they said.
These measures are to be introduced at Catherine Street, Denmark Street, Upper Denmark Street, Robert Street, Howley’s Quay and Nicholas Street, with a similar plan in place for Limerick’s towns and villages.
We are delighted to announce that the Limerick Strand Hotel will re-open on July 20th. Our team is working hard to ensure a safe return. We look forward to welcoming our guests back to the hotel & to Limerick later this Summer #LimerickEdgeEmbrace #You‘reInSafeHandsAtTheStrand pic.twitter.com/6oU4o8WR30
— LimerickStrand Hotel (@LimerickStrand) May 26, 2020
The Council have stated that in some instances, the removal of parking, footpath widening, partial road closures and temporary traffic regulation will be necessary, as well as extensions to cycle paths and increasing cycle parking facilities. Other measures in consideration include animations from 3D street art to creating giant games and pop-up street spectacle events, and using city boardwalks as street performance spaces. Limerick returns to business
The streets of Limerick have already begun to undergo intensive cleaning in light of this programme, and an advisory speed limit of 25kph in the city centre will be introduced to make more pedestrian-friendly changes and to provide space for local open-air events across Summer 2020.
These proposed measures have been developed in conjunction with Limerick Chamber, the National Transport Authority, and other stakeholders, and there is a public consultation period of two weeks open until June 12 whereby members of the public can offer their feedback and suggestions by emailing [email protected].
Limerick’s many hotels have also borne the brunt of Covid-19, with most of them closing their doors at the end of March. The Limerick Strand Hotel is one of many that is looking forward to Phase 4, on July 20, in which hotels will open again for social and tourist activities, with a limited occupancy basis which can increase over time accordingly.
Stephen O’Connor, the General Manager at the Limerick Strand Hotel, said, “Whilst our hotel remains closed, our management team are working hard behind the scenes for your return on July 20th. We are working hard on positioning ourselves as leaders in hygiene and cleaning protocols under the guidelines of the World Health Organisation, the HSE and the Irish Hotel Federation.”
The next crucial date that many retailers are looking towards is Monday, June 29, when the majority of shops in the city centre are set to begin trading again. That is if each phase goes to plan and people commit to following the specific government guidelines.
In relation to the phases, Minister for Health Simon Harris wrote on Twitter, “We must continue to follow the public head advice & stick to the plan if we want to ensure the virus remains suppressed. Please keep at it. Thanks for all you are doing. Keep well.”
For more information on the government’s roadmap, click here.
For more stories on Limerick reopening, click here.
Limerick returns to business