AN Omagh publican is hoping there may be “green shoots of recovery” on the horizon for the local hospitality industry.
In the recently announced phased opening plan in the Republic, a provisional date of August 10 has been set for the opening of licensed premises.
While it is still unclear what the plan is for the North, Andy Bogan says he is “more optimistic for the future” now that a conversation has commenced about the reopening of bars and restaurants.
The Bogan’s Bar proprietor said, “There is still a lot of uncertainty about what is going to happen and we are taking one day at a time, but the landscape has started to change.
“At least now there are discussions taking place and I am a lot more positive than in recent weeks.”
Swedish bars and restaurants remained open throughout the coronavirus pandemic under social distancing stipulations.
With other countries such as Italy starting to come out of the lockdown, Mr Bogan hopes a blueprint of how they approach the hospitality sector can be replicated here.
He said, “With a date in the Republic for reopening and other countries across Europe now reopening there is a brighter outlook that pubs can come through this in the coming months. If they are successful abroad, it will show that it can be done here and give us something to work towards.”
“I think people will socialise again when we have the all clear,” Mr Bogan added.
“After this sustained period in isolation pubs and restaurants will be needed to bring people together again, and we are looking forward to that day.”
John McGirr, who manages Sallys on John Street, said that the pub and restaurant scene will be a very different place once venues are allowed to reopen.
He said, “Eveyday life, such as going to the shops, is not the same as it used to be. People are probably now realising that when we do reopen it won’t be back to normal. That’s going to be the biggest thing for our customers and staff to get used to.”
Mr McGirr said that the government’s furlough scheme had been a “life saver” for his business and had prevented a lot of redundancies.
Now attempting to plan for the future, he is beginning to carry out risk assessments on all parts of the business.
Admitting that plenty of questions remained, Mr McGirr said, “How will we work it? What protections will be needed? Are we going to have to set up different teams to work to minimise mixing between members of staff?
“And then we go on to the customers, with possible screens, social distancing and limiting numbers.”