The mood was grim in Kildare last night as businesses braced themselves for another lockdown.
Restaurateur Paul Lenehen was left reeling when the Government announced it would lift the restrictions in Offaly and Laois, but they would be extended in Kildare only until Sunday, September 6.
The most recent lockdown was bad enough, he told the Irish Independent.
"We were hugely impacted," he said of being forced to pull down the shutters on Harte's of Kildare as well as The Dew Drop Inn in Kill, Co Kildare, which he also owns.
He was hoping to reopen next week to make up for two weeks of lost income during the latest restrictions.
But now he is looking at another lockdown. "Our ability to earn cash flow has been wiped out," he said.
Even the prospect of "staycationers" helping to keep business ticking over is no longer an option as the summer holiday season winds down with the return to school next month.
"It's an absolute disaster," he said.
"We're two weeks behind and now we have another two weeks," he said.
Not only were both businesses showing a hopeful rebound when they were allowed to reopen at the end of June, what angers him most is that other businesses in the county can carry on more or less as normal.
"It's very one-sided," he said.
"It's a hospitality lockdown," Mr Lenehen said.
Reaction on the ground in the region was one of concern and disappointment for many businesses throughout the county yesterday.
David Fitzsimons, of the Silken Thomas pub in Kildare town, said "livelihoods have been lost" through Kildare's extended lockdown and businesses like his were bracing for another two weeks of restrictions.
"People are going to lose their jobs. We're closed, but other businesses like hairdressers are allowed to remain open. We did everything right, we did all the courses, we were social distancing and sanitising and people who were in told us they felt very confident.
"We are all totally gutted. I feel we should have been given a chance. Two weeks is absolutely massive to us. All of our tourism season will be gone, so we'll be relying on staycations and local business from now on."
However, Ciaran Clarke of Roche's barbershop in Kildare said his business was already struggling during the first two weeks of localised lockdown.
"We were allowed to stay open but as soon as the announcement was made we got a lot of cancellations. I think people were confused and didn't understand that it was a partial lockdown," Mr Clarke said.
Serena McMullen, manager of Maybell Lady Plus boutique, based in Newbridge told the Irish Independent: "We are just gutted with another two weeks," she said.
"We have no footfall in the shop at all now again. It's like going back to when we just came back out of full lockdown. We had slowly started to build it back up and now we have no footfall whatsoever.
"We're all trying to make a living here, we're all trying to keep our doors open and keep things ticking over," she pointed out.
"We have overheads to pay, regardless of what goes on with Covid and lockdown. We still have to pay our rent, we still have to pay our service charges," she pointed out.
Also based in Newbridge is restaurateur Vivian Carroll, owner of Judge Roy Beans and Edward Harrigan & Son bar and restaurants. He described the extended lockdown as a "blunt instrument" in dealing with a surge of cases in the county.
"This is detrimental to us. It just seems to be getting worse, with no great support from the Government for us.
"Myself and my staff did everything by the book - 100pc by the guidelines.
"I worked to ensure that everything was going right, that people were socially distanced. We stuck to the one hour, 45 minutes. We did our Covid customer tracing, we did everything. So to be back here again is very stressful," he said.
Meanwhile, there have been calls for a Fáilte Ireland grant to be turned into €1m in cash to help Kildare businesses which will now spend four weeks in localised lockdown.
Allan Shine, the chief executive of Kildare Chamber of Commerce, said he believed a planned marketing campaign to promote staycations in the midlands is now "potentially worthless" and the money should be used to help the hospitality sector survive.
Mr Shine said he had spoken with Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, who had said the number of coronavirus cases being spread among the community in Kildare was too high to relax restrictions.
"Public health is number one, as we have always said, but this is going to devastate businesses. Two hotels are already laying off staff, businesses are crying out for cashflow.
"Kildare will now have been under localised lockdown for four weeks, and at the end of that businesses will not be able to just open up again, it is going to have a devastating impact on the local economy and it will take time to recover," Mr Shine said
He added that retail would also suffer as shopping centres and boutiques in the county have been closed off to the surrounding counties again.
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