Local businesses stretched, trying to help – and threatened

MANY small local businesses based in Dublin 8 have been forced to close for the safety of their workers and the public during this unprecedented pandemic. However, some continue to operate and carry out essential services for the residents of the Liberties.

Stores such as Norton’s Greengrocer, Thomas Street Pharmacy and Reilly’s pharmacy on Thomas Street, butchers on Meath Street and various other local shops have been working hard during the lockdown to ensure that local people have access to essential goods while abiding by social-distancing restrictions.

The workload for many essential businesses has risen. A staff member at Thomas Street Pharmacy told The Liberty they were currently “under the pump” with the amount of work needing to be done to meet their customers’ pharmaceutical needs.

“Food, pharmacy and essential services such as banks and credit unions are still operating and it’s clear that many people value the range of local services they have at this time,” Stephen Coyne, coordinator of the Liberties Business Area Improvement programme, said.

“It’s interesting to see some businesses adapt to a new reality with imagination – going online, becoming takeaways that deliver or by using their services to assist those on the frontline,” Coyne added.

On Francis Street, Dublin’s Art and Antique Quarter, all shops remain closed – but retailers such as Niall Mullen Antiques and Yeats Country Antiques have continued to sell products online.

The Circular, a shutdown pub in Rialto, has taken to coordinating deliveries from Coke Lane Pizza to frontline workers – from staff in St James’s Hospital to the local Garda to supermarket workers.

The pub has used its Facebook page to decide where and who they should send the meals in the neighbourhood.  “That community spirit is great to see,” Coyne said.

Despite such efforts, many businesses are still worried about how they will survive in the long run.

The Dublin City Local Enterprise Office has a webpage with information on supports for affected businesses.

“It is very hard to know how things will unfold in the coming months. We don’t even know yet how long the emergency will continue. Its sure to be a very challenging year for everyone and my fear is that some businesses won’t be able to reopen,” Coyne said.

“So much effort has gone into reviving the local economy of the Liberties in recent years and it’s heart-breaking to see this all come to such a sudden stop. But things will recover – the area is very resilient.”