The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that we have all had to adapt the way we live our lives – and one Laois County Councillor has come up with an idea that may benefit the hospitality sector and its customers.
Fianna Fail Cllr Catherine Fitzgerald would like to see a retractable canopy or roof erected over Main Street in Portlaoise.
With the hospitality sector currently shut down, it appears likely that the next phase for their reopening will largely revolve around outdoor dining.
Now if we lived in Spain or somewhere else along the Mediterranean, this would not be a problem as you’d be almost guaranteed gorgeous weather throughout the summer.
But this is Ireland and while we do have good days, we also have very wet and sometimes cold ones in that time – which is not very conducive for encouraging people to dine outdoors.
Speaking at this morning’s meeting of the Portlaoise Municipal District, Fianna Fail Cllr Fitzgerald thinks a retractable canopy could solve this problem.
She said: “This could really be a great benefit for the hospitality sector and their customers.
“We could erect a retractable canopy which I believe would be a unique selling feature that would bring people to the Main Street in Portlaoise.
“I know for the Old Fort Festival, we had something very similar and it worked.
“Basically, when it rains, you pull over the canopy and people can operate happily underneath it – dry from the elements.
“And when it is sunny, the canopy retracts so therefore you get the best of both worlds.”
Cllr Fitzgerald’s motion received widespread support from her fellow Councillors.
Cllr Noel Tuohy said: “This is an excellent idea.
“It would be brilliant to have something like this. We need to help our local businesses as much as possible when they reopen and this would certainly suffice.”
In reply, Director of Services Simon Walton, said the Council would actively seek funding for such a proposal.
He said: “Laois County Council notes the policy shift towards outdoor dining and outdoor performance and events spaces.
“The Council is currently and will continue to engage with any funding streams that support weather proofed outdoor dining spaces and/or weather proofed outdoor spaces suitable for performances and events.
“Subject to agreement on detail Main Street, Market Square and/or other suitable locations can be considered for any such grant schemes.”