Bars and restaurants across Armagh have said an emotional ‘goodbye for now’ and thanked their loyal customers after being ordered to close from midnight last night.
They took to social media to express their shock at the suddenness of the order.
And they wished all well and asked them to stay safe.
Rafferty’s Bar at Thomas Street had already made the decision to close completely and for the “foreseeable future” last Monday night. And a second, the Toby Jug, had shut the bar but was able to trade from the off-licence to the side of its Irish Street premises.
A meeting was convened in the Charlemont Arms Hotel on Tuesday night. The consensus had been that the centre bars would not be closing en masse.
But that all changed yesterday tea-time with the latest move to encourage social distancing and help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
It was a strange and sad time at pubs, many of which had taken the decision to close on St Patrick’s Day.
And many of these took to social media to give their reaction and deliver a message to their staff and customers.
Mickey Kelly’s Bar at Railway Street has been used as a drop-off point for food to deliver to those in nee at this time of crisis. The family are hopeful that will continue.
Nicola Kelly posted: “It is with a very heavy heart that I’m letting you all know we will be closed from tonight.
“I cannot emphasis enough how grateful I am for our loyal customers and for our hard working staff. Thank you from my heart.
“I will let you all know tomorrow about the arrangements for leaving food items at the bar. Thank-you so much to everyone who has left stuff in so far it is unbelievable how kind everyone is.
“Please keep safe everyone and look out for each other, that’s all we can do. When this is all over we will throw the biggest party ever.”
Just 40 minutes before the closing deadline and the Hole in the Wall Bar also shared its thanks and well wishes.
Owner Joanne Shilliday said: “The news we’ve been waiting for all week has finally came.
“As an industry we are devastated, personally I am broken. We will endeavour to come back bigger, stronger and better than before.
“To my customers.. Thank you all for your custom, support and loyalty, without you business would be a lot different
“To my amazing staff thank you….they have always had my back and supported me throughout everything, sometimes I think they do not realise how much I love them.
“My family are the ones who have always been there from day one, they have understood when work came first and the people who I have sacrificed so much for and I love them dearly for every little thing.
“We will overcome this hurdle and we will be back stronger and better.
“Thank you all and I’ll see you all soon. Joanne xxx”
McKenna’s Bar at Lower English Street simply posted: “So there you have it McKennas is now officially closed from tonight until further notice – take care everyone, stay safe and all being well it won’t be forever.”
Uluru at Market Street, which is owned by the Emerson family, is redeploying staff to the supermarket.
It shared its feelings last night too and explained: “In light of today’s announcement by Boris Johnston, Uluru Bar & Grill is closing from tonight until further notice.
“We just want to thank all of our customers and staff.
“In a bid to save jobs, we have relocated Uluru’s staff into the supermarket where their help and expertise has been so vital over the past few weeks.
“Emerson’s supermarket will continue to operate in these challenging times and we urge everyone to look after themselves and please continue to use hand sanitation stations at entrances to the supermarket. ‘Elderly Hour’ will continue from 8am-9am. Thanks again and best wishes to all.”