Jack Quann
Jack Quann

08.56 15 Oct 2020


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A business owner in Co Donegal claims they are being punished for high coronavirus rates across the border in Northern Ireland.

It comes as Monaghan, Cavan and Donegal are being moved onto level four of coronavirus restrictions.

Under the restrictions, only essential retail and businesses that are primarily outdoors should open.

Neil Barrett is the owner of Fithub in Letterkenny, Co Donegal

He told Newstalk Breakfast he felt "deflated" and "very confused" at the announcement.

"There's just not a lot of consistency with the recommendations that we're hearing."

He claimed the numbers do not reflect rising cases.

"Three weeks ago Donegal was 565 per 100,000 and this week we're down to 350 - cases have halved in a week.

"We're doing exactly what we're asked to do and the numbers are falling, and we're still being punished for it.

"It just doesn't make any sense".

"Why are we being treated differently to Dublin, for example, cases are still very high down there, it doesn't make any sense.

"It's almost as if we're being punished for what's going on across the border.

"We were put into level three along with Dublin before the rest of the country, and I know locally businesses have done absolutely everything they can to try and reduce the incidence rate.

"And we've done it, we've shown, the numbers are proving the incidence [rate] is dropping.

"So I just don't understand the logic of putting us into level four".

He said cross-border travel is being viewed in a different way.

"Our restrictions seem to be much greater than those business-wise that are going to be implemented in the North.

"So we're almost driving people across the border to use the services that we don't have here on the border counties".

'Just getting back on our feet'

Karen Conroy is the owner Vibes Hair Salon in Co Cavan.

"Deflated, totally deflated - it's hard, it's just coming at a time when we're just getting back on our feet and after all the work we put in to operate a safe environment.

"And I feel like we are operating a very, very safe environment - we just have to close our doors again, and it's just devastating."

She said the financial impact of this latest closure is "massive - both personally and business-wise."

"It's coming at a time when - all this talk was going on yesterday - as all of Christmas stock, our Christmas sets, our electrical tools that we're going to be selling for Christmas they were all coming in the door yesterday as we were getting this news and now we're not open to sell them.

"We do have a website, but not a lot of salons have that option."

"It's going to be very, very hard".

Frank McKenna is managing-director of the Four Seasons Hotel in Co Monaghan.

He said such lockdowns "are not economically sustainable at any time, and piecemeal is even worse".

"The numbers that they talk about in Monaghan yes they're there, but our population is so small.

"If people live in south Monaghan they can go into Dundalk and it's back to reality", suggesting this could happen for essential services.

"The economics don't stack up - we have an operation [where] we employed this time last year 100 people between part-time and full-time, this morning I have 35 people employed on a three-day week.

"We have a premises that's a controlled environment, adhered to by law, can be examined by the health authorities and by An Garda Síochána - they don't need any special power - yet they shut the hotels down".

Businesses 'being punished for what's going on across the border'

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Main image: A billboard by Border Communities Against Brexit near the Irish border between Newry and Dundalk. Picture by: Eamonn Farrell / RollingNews.ie

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Border Businesses Cavan Coronavirus Restrictions Donegal Level Four Monaghan Northern Ireland

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