We’re ready to go the distance so we can get back to business

May 7th, 2020 10:05 PM

By Emma Connolly

Sinead O’Crowley An Súgán restaurant & bar, Clonakilty

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It seems almost inevitable that social distancing will be in place for some time to come. But how will local business owners adapt to a ‘new normal’?

Sinead O’Crowley

An Súgán restaurant & bar, Clonakilty

FIRSTLY, as a restaurant/bar business we are fully supportive of the fact that lives do come first and realise that reopening will hinge on directions from the government and National Public Health Emergency team.

Our first duty is to our community and the lives of those within it and the country at large.

With regards to reopening, I am optimistic as really I can’t afford to be any other way.

I believe that Minister Harris’s comments regarding pubs not opening until Christmas were ill-considered, especially as such a wide sweeping statement can have a huge effect on the mental health of publicans and their families.

I understand that the government cannot give us a date but feel they have been remiss in not setting out a plan sooner regarding the situation with VAT for when we reopen and also giving us assistance with capital for reopening.

In addition, we will need more leeway with banks when we do reopen as our takings will be considerably reduced so it would not be feasible to restart paying business loans/ mortgages at the same repayment level.

I have been looking at the Súgán over the last few weeks and we have put together some plans.

We are primarily a food business and are lucky in that we have at our disposal five separate dining rooms and a beer garden, so I feel we can comply with the social distancing. I envisage us operating a table service only situation with the bar counter not in use.

Obviously with people spread over a wider area and the social distancing there will actually be changes to the menu and how staff operate. As regards the suggestion that the Government suspend our drinks licence this is not feasible. Instead perhaps it may be that we would have to close earlier and operate on a booking-only situation.  The Irish pub is an integral part of both our society and local community and one that we need to protect. An Súgán is more than a business to me, it is my home as my grandmother who emigrated to London from Rosscarbery before WW II said ‘The longest day is the day you can’t work.’

Sinead Fitzpatrick

Sinead’s Hair Designs, Rosscarbery

I’M in business 18 years since the start of April. My salon has been closed since March 21st, which is five weeks now, and it’s been a very strange time for me with very mixed emotions even though I know it’s the right thing to do and we are already seeing the benefits of it.

All we can do now is wait for the next announcement from the government.

But in the meantime, what I have to think about is how to manage social distancing when working on my clients. I have four girls employed on a part-time basis. I’m wondering how many staff can I have on at the same time? All these things are going through my head the last few weeks.

The week before I closed I was practising all the necessary precautions in the salon. I did a one-to-one with my clients, I wore a mask and made sure my hands were sanitised all the time. I had disposable cups and did not give out any magazines. My clients waited in their cars until they were called and, for the size of my salon, I thought this worked well. It was the best I could do with my clients to keep them safe.

But there’s no denying that reopening the salon and trying to manage inevitable social distancing is going to be challenging. We have to stand directly over our clients and it’s hard to wear gloves when cutting hair.

We are going to have to wait and see what the Government are going to announce and take it from there.  I have been in contact with other salon owners and they feel the same.

But when we are allowed to open it’s important that anyone showing symptoms of Covid-19 cancel their appointment for the safety of myself and staff.

Lisa Maybury

The Square Kitchen

(formerly Central Perk), Dunmanway

WE are in business eight years and employ a team of eight people. We closed up on March 16th, and unfortunately we were left with no choice but to lay off the whole team temporarily. This was a very difficult decision both emotionally and financially for everyone involved as well as frustrating to our regular customers.

On top of this a lot of food had to be used up quickly or thrown away. The decision to close wasn’t taken lightly but we believe it was in the best interest of all the team and our customers.

At this point we have no idea what the future holds or when we may be able to re-open. We are following all the national guidelines like everyone else. On reopening we would need to follow the social distancing restrictions. This would be a big challenge for our business and I’m not sure if we can, but we will look at every avenue possible to us. While we do have a large premises the big issue would be keeping distance between the team who are our number one priority.   We are keeping the bright side up and realise there are people out there going through much worse right now.

Dr PJ Power

Kinsale Dental

At Kinsale Dental, in advance of HSE direction, the team made the difficult decision to close on March 20th.

Since then the vast majority of cases have been manageable via telephone advice, analgesics and possibly antibiotics. We have only had to see one unfortunate lady in an extreme situation. In the intervening period we have not, however, been idle.

We have now implemented adapted protocols and technologies to offer the safest possible environment for our team and patients as we begin to exit this lockdown phase.

Our aim at this point is to make things as physically contactless as possible, maximise patient care and reduce surgery intervention. To do this we have implemented an Australian video conferencing system that was developed by a dentist for dentists.

This allows an initial consultation and a subsequent call with one or several of our clinicians.  It’s about maximising their treatment needs in a shorter amount of time.

If the patient requires a scheduled appointment, it will include the patient entering via prior arrangement, a staff member will direct the patient to sanitise their hands and will supply them with a surgical mask. All medical history will have been completed prior to attending, eliminating the need to contact surfaces in reception. From the door then the patient moves directly to the surgery chair to meet the treating clinician and the dental nurse who are donned in the appropriate PPE.

If a procedure requires generating aerosols (fillings, root canal treatment etc) we have a plan moving into the future post-Covid which includes full PPE for staff and patient.

The second line of defence to ensure safety is that we have created negative pressure environments in replication of hospital surgical environments where the generated droplets are extracted from the room as they are created.

As we all know by now, Covid is primarily spread through droplet infection, the very nature of dental procedures can spray these droplets into the atmosphere.

When the patient has completed their treatment, they remove their PPE to clinical waste, sanitise their hands and are escorted from the room without touching anything. Contactless payments are encouraged.

We take every precaution to reduce unnecessary contact to protect our patients, team and also to think about outside practice as well where our service can domino effect onto our community.

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