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How local cafes are coping with Level 3 restrictions

Dhai Almutairi checked on the local cafe to see how they are managing with Level 3 restrictions in place.

Photo by Monika Pienkos.

The government announced last week that all counties will join Dublin and Donegal in Level 3 of the Living with Covid-19 plan for the next three weeks.

Indoor dining in pubs, cafes, and restaurants is banned across Ireland under Level 3 restrictions. Serving food can remain open for takeaway, delivery, and outdoor dining only. Outdoor dining is allowed outside bars, restaurants, cafes with a maximum of 15 customers. This limitation is an effective closure order for many struggling businesses.

Many businesses wouldn’t be able to survive with public health limits of 15 customers given that winter is approaching, and the Irish climate doesn’t help to provide outdoor dining for customers. 

The Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) stated  Level 3 restrictions with outdoor dining would mean that staying open was unfeasible for many restaurants. 

The Social Fabric Café is a local café located in the heart of Stoneybatter, Dublin 7. The cafe took over an old post office and transformed it into a local spot for healthy, delicious food and coffee.

Before the initial lockdown in March, the café closed its doors as there was a decline in the number of customers coming in. The café remained closed for six weeks then reopened following government advice for takeaway only.

Social Fabric Cafe in Dublin city centre. Photo by Miguel Ruiz.

“We noticed coffee sales increase, and that made 75% of our revenue,” said Monika Pienkos, the café’s owner. “Some of our regular customers started asking for food, so we prepared a small menu for takeaway. 

“We started to look into click and collect stores, and we advertised takeaway services.”

Despite their effort in running the cafe smoothly, the café was forced to lay off all its employees. “The owners worked the hours to minimize the costs,” they explained. “We managed to cover our costs and maintained a regular customer base”, said Pienkos.

With the introduction of Level 3 restriction, the café reported a continued decline in its customers and revenue. “We don’t have an outside sitting area, and the weather is changing now, so we are considering to be open for five days a week.”

Running a café during a global pandemic means adapting to survive amid the COVID-19 restrictions.  

The Social Fabric Café made more call and collect order ads and created an online click and collect shop in order to maximise their reach. “We introduced wearing masks at all times, supplied three sanitizing stations, and made strict cleaning and sanitizing procedures,” Pienkos explained.

Business owners and customers alike have been debating whether the closure of indoor dining is going to lower the number of COVID cases in Ireland. 

“We are not sure if closing indoor dining is making a significant difference,” Pienkos said. “Our indoor dining was reorganized to adhere to all social destining regulations, and we operated on a half capacity basis.”

The Social Fabric Café recently obtained a Covid-19 safety certificate from Failte Ireland and is doing all they can and need to keep their place and customers safe.

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