'I see the Guards every day. I didn't know any of them before this and now I nearly know them all by name'
Pub owner Pauline McLoughlin has had enough of government red tape and demands and says she can't wait for the day when she can go back to running a sports bar, without having to serve food.
Having reopened her Irishtown pub six weeks ago 'because I've a mortgage to pay having done up the pub last year and a small family to feed', Pauline said she doesn't see the point in keeping on to itemised receipts for four weeks.
'What's that going to do to stop Covid? It's got nothing to do with anything or anyone's health and wellbeing. It's putting extra work on people who are trying to keep to the regulations.'
Pauline said she had no choice but to open in late July having bought in a lot of stock.
When she opened, the hard reality of having to run a business with half her usual customers sunk in quick.
'I am at half what I would do in normal times but I am glad we are open. It's been very difficult explaining to people that we can only have 50 in. That's been hard with some regulars.'
Pauline's staff provide food from Four Star Pizza. 'It's not just pizza as some people don't like pizza. It's a lot of extra work. It's hard; it's just not easy. When customers come in, I take their contact details and they sit down and we give them a menu.'
She said business has been steady but some elderly customers have not yet returned to her pub as they are Covid anxious.
'It's different. Young people are out and you can't blame them. They are going to house parties when they leave here. They're young, so of course they're not going to go home at 11 p.m. I think if the pubs opened up there would be less of that. Young people tell me they're sick of going to parties; they'd rather be in pubs.'
Pauline said garda visits are part of life these days for publicans. 'I see the guards every day. I didn't know any of them before this and now I nearly know them all by name. I know they have a job to do. I think it's very harsh because we are the only country in Europe where pubs haven't been allowed to reopen. From a mental health point of view, not just for customers, but also for publicans, people are eager to get out of their own homes as well. It's a social thing to do and we're Irish.'
Describing the vast majority of publicans as responsible people, Pauline said they know how to deal with people who have drink on board.
'Most of us run good pubs and are sticking to the rules. OK, people let their guard slip; they would stop and talk to someone and they forget but then they go back to where they were sitting. By now everyone knows the rules and regulations. We are a very friendly nation; you see it in the supermarket and on the streets. We stop and have a word.'
She cannot wait to get back to running her bar the way she used to, but for now, food must be served.
New Ross Standard