Businesses getting back to 'normal' as shops, restaurants and salons reopen

Businesses getting back to 'normal' as shops, restaurants and salons reopen
Dee Munnelly, co-owner of ORSO of coffee shop on Pembroke street, Cork. Photo: Eddie O'Hare

"It's like we can breathe again," said restaurateur, Dee Munnelly, from inside the hatch at Orso restaurant on Pembroke St in Cork city centre.

"We're very lucky to be open. One of the nicest things about coming back has been seeing people again. They've been delighted to see us open. I think it gives people a sense that things are getting back to normal."

Although restaurants can officially welcome hungry clients back inside, Ms Munnelly said that with social distancing regulations they've lost 60% of their capacity.

Their space which could take 26 - 30 tables can now only fit four so Orso is sticking with takeaways and serving their outdoor seating for now.

"It was heart-breaking to close," Ms Munnelly said. "I was most upset about losing staff. Out of 13 staff, we've brought back three. But I'm going to do my best to get people back."

Around the corner, staff at the Oliver Plunkett bar were busy behind face masks and perspex shields, carrying pints to groups sitting outside and serving inside at socially distanced tables.

Businesses getting back to 'normal' as shops, restaurants and salons reopen
Lisa Cussen, manager at the Oliver Plunkett bar on Oliver Plunkett street, Cork. Photo: Eddie O'Hare

"People are delighted to be out again," said manager, Lisa Cussen.

"We have a very local, traditional client base and we have to create that confidence for them that it's safe. We brought everyone in for special training last week. We have contract cleaners in as well as our staff and we're sanitising everything frequently."

Erica Valders from Mexico was celebrating her birthday with Jean Chen from Taiwan: "It's my birthday so I'm going to drink a beer, have some good food and enjoy the place. Town is full of people again, it's like things are back to normal."

Businesses getting back to 'normal' as shops, restaurants and salons reopen
Jean Chen and Ericka Baldesz both from St. Lukes, Cork enjoy a drink as they ordered food at the Oliver Plunkett bar on Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork today.
Photo: Eddie O'Hare

Outside nearby Scoozi's restaurant, a team was busy checking tables before it reopens tomorrow.

Manager, Rory Bickerstaffe, said: "We'll be open from 9am for breakfast. We're not taking bookings at the moment, you can just call in."

The capacity which the restaurant lost through social distancing guidelines, has been regained gained thanks to plans to pedestrianise the street and allow businesses place more tables outside their premises.

"What we've lost inside we've gained outside. The lane has been pedestrianised and we have lights crisscrossing the lanes so it looks very Spanish at night," Mr Bickerstaffe said.

Businesses getting back to 'normal' as shops, restaurants and salons reopen
Staff getting Scoozi restaurant ready for opening tomorrow from left, Corey Ring, Jamie King, Alan Moynihan, Luke Crowley, David Gonzalez and Cian Lonergan. Photo: Eddie O'Hare

Queues formed outside busy barber shops with people chatting as they waited for long-anticipated hair cuts.

"You have no idea how good it feels to be back. It's fantastic. It was torture going without a haircut for so long. I'll look human again!" said Rob Kumar sitting on a chair behind a facemask in Tom Winters barbers on North Main Street.

Stephen McLoughlin, owner of Tom Winters, is already fully booked with clients until next January.

Businesses getting back to 'normal' as shops, restaurants and salons reopen
Stephen McLoughlin owner of Tom Winters barbers on North Main street, Cork with customer Gareth O'Flynn, Glanmire. Photo: Eddie O'Hare

He spent seven years planning his barbershop, refining his vision, and collecting antiques for it. It was open for just under two years when the pandemic struck and forced him to temporarily close its doors: "It's amazing to get back to work. And to see the response from clients has been very humbling. We were fully booked for the year in just four days."

Julie Dunne's business, Brows by Julie, was open for less than one year when the pandemic struck. But today, she opened her doors on Tuckey Street to eager clients again.

"Things were really taking off before lockdown, we were building up our clientele, it was really busy, things were great. Then, within days, we had to close up. It was a bit of a hit. But it's taught me not to take anything for granted and to feel really grateful for what I have. I'm working six days a week now and I'm thankful to be doing it."

Businesses getting back to 'normal' as shops, restaurants and salons reopen
An early morning queue forming outside Kusadasi Turkish Barbers on Main Street, Carrigaline, Co. Cork. Photo: David Creedon / Anzenberger

Ciara Dorrington co-owns Kida Hair Salon on Washington Street with Darren Luby. Working a six-day week, they are already fully booked until August.

"Our capacity has halved, we can only have three people on each floor. We check people's temperatures when they come in and everyone wears masks and visors," Ms Dorrington said.

"We had 750 people on our online waiting list alone but we're getting through it quite quickly. It feels like a different space now. We're used to it being really busy but now, even though it's fully booked, it feels much calmer."

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