COUNCILLORS are to write again to the Minister for Local Government and Planning so awnings and canopies can be installed outside commercial premises.
They want existing restrictions lifted to facilitate more outdoor dining when businesses reopen, and were responding to a reply to their motion that was passed last summer.
Cllr Gobnait Moynihan (FF) said that if an exemption did come in it would still have to go through Council but it would speed it up dramatically to get the doors of businesses open as soon as possible and to encourage outdoor dining.
‘There will be still be eyes over them to make sure they aren’t ugly and gaudy. Exemptions come and go and there’s nothing stopping the Minister from pulling the exemption once Covid disappears,’ said Cllr Moynihan.
‘We all know what the weather is like and we all know that staycations will be the norm this summer and it’s far more favourable to be outdoors while Covid is still with us.’
Cllr Marie O’Sullivan (FG), who runs her own café in Kinsale, said this issue is very close to her.
‘Outdoor dining was a huge success last summer across the county and Cork County Council was great in supporting them. Now we have companies offering businesses grants to put up awnings and blinds so they can operate outdoors,’ said Cllr O’Sullivan.
‘It’s very necessary to move this forward as fast as we can as our bigger businesses open to make sure it’s a safe environment.’
Cllr Kevin Murphy (FG) said that maybe they should have told the Minister from the outset that this application is only meant to be a temporary measure during Covid-19 and not a permanent solution.
‘Some of the awnings themselves can stay there for ever but more put up are permanent and some are not attractive. We need a visual look first to what they are putting up and most of time they are attractive, ’ said Cllr Murphy.
Cllr Frank O’Flynn (FF) said outdoor dining is the new norm now and that instead of putting up barriers to business owners, they should be encouraging them.
‘It’s a no brainer really especially with us living with Covid and we must help them salvage their businesses this summer,’ said Cllr O’Flynn.