Former Footballer of the Year Andy Moran says that everyone in business in the country “are going to be on our knees” when the coronavirus restrictions are eventually lifted.
The ex-Mayo captain had to make the ‘stressful’ decision to close all three of his gyms and fitness centres in Castlebar and Claremorris less than three weeks ago after social distancing guidelines were introduced to try and stop the spread of Covid-19.
However, Moran says he is now trying to focus his energies on trying to plan for an uncertain future and has called on people to support local businesses when the shutdown is over.
“My own personal goal would be, ‘how can I build a business again when we get back and re-open?’ All of us in business are going to be on our knees when this is over.
“Towns like Castlebar have worked so hard to build themselves up over the last few years, so it’s going to be so important to pull together and support each other to rebuild.
“There’s no doubt that this is going to be a massive shake to the Mayo economy. Hopefully as a county and a country we can get through the virus and keep the numbers down.
“I always say that Mayo people are a different kind of people, we always fight back.
“I’d call on people to support local business when this is all over, get people moving again. The big challenge will be to build towns all across Mayo.”
In the days since Andy and his wife Jennifer were left with no option but to close their two ‘Movement’ gyms, along with the Leisure Complex they run at Lough Lannagh in Castlebar, they have been trying to make the best of a difficult situation as they ‘stay at home’ in Ballaghaderreen with their two children, Charlotte and Ollie.
“We closed our businesses on the Friday evening of March 13, the day after Leo Varadkar announced the measures,” Andy explained.
“The Lough Lannagh Leisure complex closed first and the other two Movement gyms in Castlebar and Claremorris closed then.
“We just had to get out ahead of it. We went through all the best practices and, realistically, we just weren’t able to enforce the two metres between people in the gym for social distancing.
“We are going to try and pay our staff for as long as possible. A lot of them have families, mortgages, loans etc. . .
“We pre-recorded some videos before we closed, some online classes for our members and the wider public to do while everything is closed. All the memberships are paused.”
Moran, who holds the record for the most number of Mayo appearances, is renowned for his positive outlook and attitude, and infectious enthusiasm.
So while he admits that the decision to close his businesses was ‘stressful’ at the time, the fact that it was done for ‘the greater good’ made it easier to accept.
“Once we made the decision to close it kind of cleared up some things in the mind a bit,” he explained.
“Of course, having to close three businesses and let staff know is very stressful in the heat of the moment.
“But you’re doing it for the greater good and that also helps to free up your mind.
“You have to ask yourself, ‘what can we do for the people of Mayo?”
The HSE have subsequently taken over the Lough Lannagh premises in Castlebar to use it as a temporary testing centre for Covid-19, something that Andy Moran appreciates will help so many people around the county.
“We are very thankful to Mayo County Council for everything they have done and we are delighted that the building in Lough Lannagh was handed over to the HSE,” he said, “because we all have to do everything we can to help get this virus under control.”