Pedestrianisation of city streets to make way for outdoor seating is a welcome move for Cork businesses as they reopen after Covid-19 -Buttimer

-   Senator Jerry Buttimer

The pedestrianisation of city streets allowing businesses to create outdoor seating areas will be crucial in helping them return to normal trade within the Covid-19 restrictions, Fine Gael Senator Jerry Buttimer has said.

Cork South Central Senator Jerry Buttimer has welcomed a decision by Cork City Council to temporarily pedestrianise streets to help businesses and members of the public as they adhere to social distancing guidelines.

He  pointed to the success of one of the busiest shopping thoroughfares in the city being transformed into an outdoor seating area for bar and restaurant customers as we enter Phase 3 of the Roadmap for Reopening Business and Society.

Senator Buttimer said, “The scenes at Clancys bar and restaurant on Princes Street on Monday were reminiscent of a busy sidewalk café in Paris as tables placed outside the popular venue were full with patrons as it and other businesses reopened for the first time since the start of the global health pandemic.

“After months of inactivity in Cork City centre as a result of restrictions imposed due to Covid-19, it was heartening to see Princes street come to life once again with tables full of customers dining outside as businesses and their patrons adjust to the new normal.

“In recent months, businesses, council officials and other stakeholders in Cork city have come up with  a range of initiatives so that local businesses can provide services to their customers while ensuring that safety protocols are being met.

“Cork City Council is creating up to 12 ‘people friendly’ pedestrianised city centre streets, offering scores of free street furniture licences and will also install up to 43 new bicycle racks across the city. This is part of its ‘Reimagining Cork City’ project which is aimed at encouraging people to feel confident about returning to the city to shop, do business and visit.

“Already, the popular Marina riverside amenity has been pedestrianised along with Tuckey St, Pembroke St, Paul St and Princes Street, with public consultation continuing on a number of other streets.

“And we saw those efforts bear fruit yesterday as we strike the right balance in reopening the country and getting people back to work while at the same time adhering to public health advice and preventing the spread of Covid-19.

“This new way of organising street space is already the norm in European cities like Paris, Berlin, and Barcelona and the American cities of New York and Boston. Some European countries have dining plazas in operation where seating can be placed in open spaces near bars and restaurants.

“Local authorities in other cities have already indicated that they would facilitate businesses making further use of public space as restrictions are lifted. Similar to what we have seen in Cork, it is imperative that local authorities engage with restaurants, cafes and bars  to assist them as they get back on their feet and find new and innovative ways of doing business.

“As we have seen with the re-opening of other sectors in earlier phases, businesses, their customers and their employees have worked together effectively in line with best public health guidance and with very few difficulties.  I have no doubt that good work will continue over the coming weeks.

“In addition, Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar, TD, is heading up The July Stimulus which will further help businesses and create and protect jobs especially in areas hit by Covid like hospitality, tourism, retail and leisure.”

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