Pubs in the county are getting back to normal after the lifting of most Covid-19 restrictions on Saturday
Pubs across Donegal have been making preparations for full reopening and the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions including the requirement for vaccine passes.
The closure of hospitality businesses at 8pm was lifted at 6am on Saturday after Taoiseach Micheál Martin’s announcement on Friday.
Bar stools have been put back in place with sitting at the bar permitted again.
Alice Lynch, the owner of Maggie’s Tavern in St Johnston, watched the announcement on TV with customers in her pub.
“We were all glued to it - we loved it, and we loved Micheál Martin last night. When he made the announcement, some of the customers took away the barriers between the tables,” she said.
“The bar stools are back, after 22 months.”
She said a great weight has been lifted by the announcement.
“I absolutely feel energised - you’re not looking over your shoulder watching. We can get on with normal life again and plan. That is the big thing, we can plan - plan our lives, plan out activities.
The barstools were also back out in Hegarty's Slieve League Lodge in Carrick on Saturday afternoon where a big crowd had been present for the televised announcement by the Taoiseach.
Bar manager Anna Hegarty said the speed of the removal of restrictions had been unexpected.
“I didn’t think it would all happen after last night. The stools are around the bar and that is the big thing for me. You can get talking and yapping away again to all the customers.”
Not having to check vaccine passes on Saturday has been a big sign of the return to normality, she said.
“When people came in the door they did not have to sign their name. Behind the bar, it is strange because you are so used to asking people for their Covid pass, and that’s great.”
In another sign of the return to normality, the bar was hosting live music at 9pm. The last time music was performed live was before Christmas when it started at 5.30pm.
“We are delighted and we hope we will have a busy season ahead of us.”
In Buncrana, Peter McLaughlin of the Excelsior bar gave the announcement a cautious welcome. It will take some people time to get back to normal, he said.
“It was good to see it but it is early days yet and time will tell. We know it will be difficult to get back to ways it was.”
Many people are still cautious about going into crowded settings after almost two years of restrictions, he said.
“We know it will affect people’s habits but we just have to wait and see. There are people who are looking forward to getting out but there are people who will be cautious and people who will be concerned. It could take time and I don’t mean a few weeks, it could be a year or two before we get back to come sort of normality. People have lost confidence and they are going to be more cautious.”
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