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Publican ‘excited’ and ‘very optimistic’ about reopening

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‘WE’LL IMPLEMENT ALL THE GUIDELINES’ Swinford publican Marie Mellett.

Oisin McGovern

The owner of Mellett’s Emporium in Swinford is looking forward to reopening on Monday. After six months of closed doors and empty seats, she said she is ‘excited’ and ‘very optimistic’ about the transition.
Speaking to The Mayo News yesterday (Monday), Marie Mellett, who is secretary of the VFI in Mayo, said that she and her staff will do everything they can to ensure the safety of their clients when they open up on September 21.
“We welcome the opportunity to finally be allowed open. While the guidelines are strict we will adhere to all of them,” she said.
Although being closed for so long has been ‘a huge strain mentally and financially,’ Marie said that she is looking forward to creating a safe and friendly atmosphere for her customers.
“We’re not a hospital. People are coming in here to relax, and we’ll implement all the guidelines, but we’ll do it in a friendly way.
“A lot of stuff goes on behind the scenes. We’re not going to be spraying customers down with hand sanitiser when they come through the door.”

Responsibilities
Alcohol-only pubs like Mellett’s Emporium received guidelines for operating under Covid-19 restrictions on September 6.
Marie believes that while they will manage to limit six people to a table, ensuring mixing of no more than three households, as per the guidelines, will be ‘a matter of personal responsibility’.
“I’m not sure how we’re going to police that,” she said.
“We’re not going to be asking people who lives with who, that’s none of our business. That’s the one tricky one.
“The time limit of 105 minutes we’d completely disagree with because that’s just going to encourage pub crawls,” she added.
“Because we can have our tables at a two-metre distance we won’t have time limits.”
Under social distancing guidelines, the capacity of pubs like Mellet’s Emporium will be reduced by ‘40 to 50 percent’. Staff will all wear face masks and adhere to strict cleaning regimes.
“All our staff have been fully trained so they know all about social distancing and updated cleaning regimes,” Marie said.
“Everyone’s really excited to come back to work. Everyone enjoyed the holiday, but six months off is too long. It gives a bit of normality to life.”
As The Mayo News reported on August 11, the 223-year-old Mellet’s Emporium has installed extra snugs, hand sanitisers and hands-free taps to ensure proper hygiene and social distancing.

Cash flow
Marie – who is the seventh generation of her family to take charge of the establishment – says that the Government must continue to provide some form of wage subsidy while social distancing remains in place.
“There’s no way that pubs could survive without the wage subsidy. That has to remain in place until social distancing is gone, who knows when that will be… It’ll probably be in the middle of next year,” she said.
“Under the new scheme you only get the subsidy every six weeks, so for the first six weeks we’re expected to cover the cost of wages,” she added.
“They need to look at it [and] acknowledge that it’s not going to be possible for some people to pay out wages in the first six weeks. In the other scheme it used to be paid every 48 hours. While it’ll be great to get it back after six weeks, I’m not too sure where that cash is going to come from.”
Marie says that while publicans are feeling ‘optimistic’, there is still an air of caution about the ongoing presence of Covid-19.
“None of us will believe it until our doors open Monday morning,” she admitted.
“Our business never went through such a period of closure and hopefully never has to do again. We’re going to stick it out for another 200 years or so.”