CATHAOIRLEACH of Donegal County Council Cllr. Nicholas Crossan has today unveiled plans to support the re-opening of businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector through facilitating additional outdoor dining and seating areas.
Owners of restaurants, cafés and eateries can apply for a licence from the Council for additional outdoor seating areas that will provide them with extra capacity to help them comply the public health social distancing requirements and achieve greater levels of sustainability in their business in 2020.
The Council is committed to a 10-working day turnaround for each application subject to all necessary information being received at the outset and normal licence fees are being waived under this scheme in 2020.
“I am delighted to be in a position to unveil these plans today which I believe will provide businesses with some practical support and assistance to help them re-open in a viable and sustainable way in 2020. The business sector in Donegal is working hard to respond to and adapt to the government roadmap for gradual re-opening on a phased basis, while meeting public health and safety guidelines and maintaining customer’s confidence” says Cllr Crossan.
“Councils ongoing engagement with various organisations including the Letterkenny Chamber of Commerce, Irish Hotel Federation and Fáilte Ireland has highlighted the immediate concerns and issues affecting businesses during this initial phase of recovery.
“It is evident that interventions relating to the reallocation of outdoor spaces to facilitate businesses re-opening is a key issue for businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector from the perspective of providing additional capacity to enable compliance with social distancing requirements and achieving financial viability.
“These plans focus on the use of outdoor space, which is in the control of the Council, to support businesses re-opening during the recovery phase while also having a strong focus on ensuring accessibility for all, creating safe space for essential workers and services users and facilitating all other stakeholders”.
The Council is also exploring funding options for larger communal areas where a local entity such as a Chamber of Commerce or a Community Development Group could establish a larger shared outdoor facility providing extra dining and seating area under this scheme in locations such as town squares or other civic spaces.
These plans are additional to other interventions and supports being delivered by the Council to support businesses during this time including the Restart Grant to businesses to fund reopening costs, a three-month waiver of Commercial Rates to businesses affected by Covid-19, the Business Continuity Vouchers and the Trading Online Vouchers available through the Local Enterprise Office, the ongoing information and communications campaign on supports available to businesses including businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector, an integrated tourism marketing/product development campaign targeting the island of Ireland market and maximising opportunities for Donegal as a remote working location of choice.
Cllr Crossan said: “Donegal County Council is fully committed to supporting businesses as the county re-opens following the Covid-19 lockdown.
“The tourism and hospitality sector is of huge importance to Donegal and it is heartening to see the Council engaging with all relevant stakeholders to sustain the industry in 2020 including developing and delivering a bespoke tourism marketing campaign targeting local and island of Ireland markets which will be key markets for tourism businesses in Donegal in 2020”.
Information on this scheme including how to apply is available on www.donegalcoco.ie and applicants can contact the Council in advance of making an application by emailing email@example.com or calling 074 91 53900.