As Wexford's 'wet' pubs prepare to reopen on Monday next, September 21 after six months of lockdown, well-known Bullring publican Eddie Macken said he is looking forward to getting back behind the counter but also apprehensive about what is in store.
'I'm looking forward to seeing my regular customers again but like a lot of publicans I'm apprehensive about what's going to happen.'
'I think it would have been better if we could all have reopened together. When the pubs serving food were allowed to open, the Covid-19 figures were low . Now they're up again and we're facing into the winter and people getting the flu'.
Eddie who grew up in the licensed premises which he was run for the past 40 years, has reorganised the interior in accordance with social distancing guidelines and now has seating for 35 people, compared to a previous capacity of 100 or more.
'When someone comes in you have to bring them to a table and take their order. they can't come to the bar and they can't move around socialising.'
'All of the banter takes place at the bar. That's where people love to sit. But that is not allowed anyore. I was going to put up a perspex screen so that I could continue using the bar but that's not allowed now, altough these guidelines could change tomorrow.'
'You take people to a seat and that is where they have to stay. You can't have live music and as I understand it, you can't have background taped music. The thinking is that if you have music, you'll have people up dancing or customers will have to raise their voices to be heard. The television has to be turned down low.'
'It's going to be difficult for people to have a private conversation if there is no background noise. It's going to be a very different environment. I always love the banter at the bar.'
'I would like to see a bit of music, especially on a Saturday night. People love singing along to it. It doesn't have to be too loud.'
'Publicans are not the first on everyone's Christmas card list because of issues with alcohol and family problems etc, but the Irish pub is known internationally and it is in danger with all that has been happening. There is an Irish pub in Wuhan and in Moscow. It's the jewel in the crown of the tourist industry. It's not about getting hammered or drunk, it's about socialising and meeting your neighbours and talking to people.'
'You have the third generation of people coming into Macken's. It's their local. It's like an extended family. They have a good term here. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone again. I've kept in touch with some people over WhatsApp. They have been missing the place
'I'm looking forward to getting back but I am apprehensive about the spike in numbers. I'm apprehensive for the staff, for the customers and for myself, that we don't catch anything.'
'I'm running the place for 40 years and I love every minute of it but this year has been very challenging and it's going to continue to be a challenge financially.'