Amid closures and confusion, what can you do to support your local businesses?
"Have empathy for the shared experience we're all just trying to stay afloat in. And how protecting the vulnerable in our society is more important than any financial gain."
Small Irish businesses are really feeling the hit this week. While some cafes and restaurants have been able to switch to offering take-away orders for collection or delivery, many others have sadly have to close for a period of time that's as yet undetermined.
So what can we do to help them out?
If your local businesses are still open, then visiting is the best option. All establishments are taking all the precautions they can to look after your safety and the safety of their staff. So, as long as you are mindful of social distancing and not crowding a space then you can shop or eat away.
Sean O'Brien, owners of men's barber shops Cut & Sew, says they've had "the worst week of business" they've ever had in all three of their shops, but tells me "they are all safe and healthy". That seems to be the resounding message from most places I spoke to: things may sound bad, but at the end of the day we are here and we are healthy.
It's an amazing way to think given the times.
One of my favourite haunts is Daddy's cafe in Rialto, which we visited for a recent episode of Curated With Cassie. Owner Colm took the decision to close the cafe from 2pm today. Like the rest of us he understands "we're staring into an unprecedented situation with no reference in living memory". For Colm and his staff at Daddy's, it was about making decisions "based on information but also on compassion".
Colm is quite a positive thinker, so much so that I'd love to be locked up in a house with his good vibes, but he is practical too. For anyone who is looking for a way to continue to support their local businesses, even those that are currently closed, he advises: "have fun planning the next time you're going out and buy vouchers for these small businesses. And support them again when everything comes right."
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SEE YOU SOON! ??♂️??♂️??♂️ We'll be closing today from 2pm until it's sensible to reopen. Thank you SO SO MUCH for supporting us. It's hard to effectively write how much your support means - both now and when we reopen but to put it simply, it means everything ❤️❤️❤️ Big shout out to our amazing crew (pictured above having the max bantz a couple of weeks ago), who have been so incredibly good humoured, adapting to this ever changing situation. Mind each other. See you soon. Le grá, Colm. XXX
Andrea Horan, owner of cult nail salon Tropical Popical, has also taken the decision to close her business for the foreseeable future. "Honestly, we're shitting ourselves – if we can't do nails we can't get paid," she says. "But at the same time, this whole thing is giving us an opportunity to take time to sit and look at what's not working in society.
"Because this virus is combatted by us all working collectively, irrespective of race, social standing or wealth, it's exposing the benefits of a socialist society where everyone is looked after. Maybe this crisis has the potential for us to recalibrate and realise that ideas like co-living developments, direct provision, are just bad ideas."
Andrea says that buying gift vouchers will help small businesses, and also reminds people to support makers and creators, performers and musicians who have had their gigs cancelled.
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Even though we believe getting your nails did is essential ??? there's nothing more essential than stopping the spread of Coronavirus. So we're now closed until further notice. We're making a big sacrifice as a business closing now, not half as much a sacrifice as front line health workers who are already under so much pressure and will undoubtedly experience so much more. So please respect social distancing and don't be the sap putting people's lives at risk going on the sesh. While you think you won't get Coronavirus, what happens if you need other urgent healthcare from an overstretched system that can't deal with you. We're all in this together. Please #StayHome & stay safe ? #TropicalPopical
The most important thing that we can do, she says, is be mindful of how others might be suffering at the moment and to find positivity where we can.
"And remember that everyone is struggling with this – try to be cognisant when you're talking to other people that this isn't just a blow to you. We're all in this together so instead of just focusing on how it's affecting you, have empathy for the shared experience we're all just trying to stay afloat in. And how protecting the vulnerable in our society is more important than any financial gain. It's literally life or death.
"And try to find the positives this drastic situation is providing. When external day to day pressures and schedules are removed from us, can we learn to focus on what's really important to us?"
So the takes from business owners: stay positive, support local and buy vouchers if you can. Remember that even though you have no control over what's going on in the world (beyond taking the official advice on hygiene and social distancing seriously) you do have control of how you see the world.
Think positive, be grateful for every moment you have and stay safe.