16 Aug 2022

There was a need for just 'one voice to be heard' - Kildare hotelier assesses Covid-19 response


There was a need for just 'one voice to be heard' - Kildare hotelier assesses Covid-19 response

Mary Elliffe, owner of the Town House Hotel, Naas

A Naas hotelier has said that mixed messages coming from government made it difficult to manage the effects of the pandemic.

“There were so many different statements and figures appearing at political level it would have been better if the government had one person dealing with the pandemic this instead of several different voices,” said Mary Elliffe, proprietor of the Town House Hotel, Newbridge Road, for the past 26 years.

“It has been very trying, we have lost five experienced staff members which will be extremely difficult to replace. Some had been there for 20 years at least so they have a lot of experience and this is what will be missed, they’ll be difficult to replace,” said Ms Elliffe.

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Some of these, she said, took up employment in retail or manufacturing settings because they felt these offered more security. 

“It’s unfortunate but I understand that they have bills and mortgages to pay and for a long time we were not sure when we might be able to reopen. They were made to feel they had no future.”

Like many businesses, the Town House has reopened to a changed landscape.

“One customer we had died tragically during the pandemic. He would come in every day for food and maybe a couple of pints but mainly for the company and it seems he had nowhere to go for a long time when the virus hit. It was very sad. The pandemic was extremely difficult for older people because they were effectively locked up for so long.”

Ms Elliffe was critical of the imposition of the €9 meal rule.

“People could only stay for an hour and half and that was a very short period of time given the time it takes to prepare and serve food. It was a difficult rule to police.”

Ms Elliffe said that outdoor dining offered some business but it too came with problems — to do with the Irish weather. She is looking forward to a resumption of events that could not take place when the virus surged through society — like birthday parties, first communion and confirmations, weddings and meetings. Guests will also be welcomed back as well with the abolition of the rule which meant that customers had to leave the bar at 8pm but guests could drink until midnight.

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