HERE have to go continental and begin embracing an outdoor pub culture.
While the Fermanagh weather may not be as suited to the al fresco experience as in mainland Europe, with bars and restaurants recently reopening with much smaller capacity due to social distancing requirements, and many unable to reopen yet at all, the idea could help get the local industry back on its feet.
Health Minister Robin Swann has already suggested the local pub industry moves to “a cafe-style approach” with punters seated outdoors, where the spread of the virus is much lower than in enclosed spaces. Meanwhile, plans are afoot in Omagh to potentially close some town centre streets to accommodate queues and encourage more use of public spaces, with publicans there backing the cafe culture idea.
In Fermanagh, Cllr Paul Blake, who has a family background in the local pub industry, also wholeheartedly backed the idea.
“It’s something I’ve thought about for a while and would love to see as it would be a great boost to the night time economy,” he said. “I think Enniskillen is the ideal town for it, because it’s one big long main street. I think it can work. The layout of Enniskillen makes it feasible, and I would love to see it happening.”
Cllr Blake suggested “closing off the town centre completely, not allowing any cars up whatsoever” to allow bars to put tables and chairs outside, but only “after 6 or 8pm, once businesses have a chance to close.”
“It’s something that can only really be done during the summer months when you have a decent chance of having dry weather,” he noted, but said even that would be a welcome boost.
“We’re coming out of this coronavirus pandemic and the pubs are going to need some sort of help to get themselves up and going again and people are still going to be a wee bit wary,” he added.
“I think if you have something like outdoor chairs and tables people might be a bit more comfortable about going and sitting outside than they would be about going into the pub itself.”
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