Claire Byrne Live shows how pubs might operate as #Covid-19 restrictions are eased
"It's wrecking most of our heads in the pub business."
A vision of what social distancing might means for the reopening of Ireland's pubs was played out on last night's Claire Byrne Live.
Reporting from the set of Fair City, Claire went to Carrigstown's McCoy's pub for a glass of sparkling water to see how pubs might operate with the eventual easing of Covid-19 restrictions.
The suggested measures were carried out as follows:
Byrne entered the pub, said a quick hello to Joe Duffy, and immediately sanitised her hands.
She then sat down at the far corner of the bar before publican Billy Keane, who was wearing a mask, checked her ID and took her order. Byrne was not permitted to approach the bar under the new potential rules.
Keane explained that in real life, there would be someone at the door, someone on the floor, and someone behind the bar. "You'd have three staff serving one person," he said.
Claire was then brought her drink by the member of floor staff before beginning her socially distant chat with Keane.
"How is this going to work?" she said. "Or is it going to work?"
"None of us know," said Keane. "Some people are saying now that we should have perspex up at the counter. And you could get two or three to sit up at the bar maybe a metre or two metres apart.
"It's wrecking most of our heads in the pub business (...) We're there 75 years our family, and I don't know will I be the last one or will we be able to open or will it be a success.
"[Pubs are scheduled to open in] August, so that's three months' time. We're all hoping for a miracle. You know the publicans were famous for the poor mouth, but this really is it. It could be the end of the line for a lot of us."
Keane added that he "desperately" wants to be able to open once restrictions are lifted.
"Maybe there will be a new norm, and maybe we'll talk out loud to each other," he says. "And if you wanted a secret conversation, you'll have it on your mobile phone later on."
Nuala Carey, who also attended the set with Byrne, Duffy, and Keane, said that the proposed measures are "completely different to what we're used to."
"The craic is gone," she said. "But then, why do you go to a pub? Is it just for the alcohol?
"Sure, you can buy that other places. It's the social aspect. Maybe it's even more than that.
"Maybe it's the psychological thing of having a pub open and people who really miss it, who perhaps live on their own, who perhaps haven't seen anybody in months - this might be their saving grace."
You can watch the full report from last night's Claire Byrne Live on the RTÉ Player.