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Holidaymakers urged to stay away from Kilkee for health reasons

A former Mayor of Kilkee has urged tourists and visitors to stay away from the West Clare holiday hotspot during the holiday period to minimise the spread of Covid-19.

While Claire Haugh stressed holidaymakers are normally very welcome in Kilkee, she is concerned that any large influx of people into the town could result in the unwanted transmission of the virus.

“It is a hugely difficult and dangerous time for everyone and the safety of people in Kilkee is paramount. We welcome visitors all year round but these are different and frightening times.

“People in Kilkee are trying to mind ourselves and visitors should be cautious of their own health.

“There will be good times ahead when the vaccine comes in and then there will be a thousand welcomes for people to come to Kilkee.

“When things get better, the doors will be wide open to welcome them as usual. We love having visitors in Kilkee and it is great for shops and the local economy, but there is a time and a place, and that time is not now.

“People in Kilkee will restricted next week from travelling to Limerick, which is fair enough. While the restrictions are difficult, they are for peoples’ own health and safety.

“If possible, I would be saying stay away until things settle down, and the vaccine is made available,” she said.

Ms Haugh confirmed there is no major influx to the West Clare hotspot this week.

She appealed to people to abide by the new restrictions, which come into force on December 26 banning intercounty travel, apart from very limited circumstances.

Last March, Councillor Roisín Garvey, Green Party, who was later appointed to the Seanad and Councillor Shane Talty, Fianna Fáil, issued a social media appeal urging holidaymakers and day trippers not to come to Lahinch on Mother’s Day in the interest of health and safety and to prevent the development of Covid-19 clusters.

They issued the warning following a huge influx of people to the North Clare hotspot the previous Sunday and on St Patrick’s Day.

Lahinch hotelier, Michael Vaughan expressed concern there may be an influx of people into Lahinch on New Year’s Eve, who might revert to house parties in view of the fact traditional socialising venues like pubs and hotels will be closed.

“Christmas is a family time so most people tend to stay away from the village during this period. Given the severity of the third wave of Covid-19, I would expect the gardaí will be out in force to police roads and access to the village.

“The only worry is whether people will try and slip into Lahinch on New Year’s Eve and try to have house parties. There are lots of houses for rent in Lahinch and young people might be tempted to come down and do some surfing and socialising.

While there are some emigrants who have returned who are self-isolating in houses, the former Irish Hotels’ Federation (IHF) president said holiday home owners have not travelled to the village in large numbers and noted it is mostly locals.

“Lahinch was reasonably busy up until now and businesses were looking forward to a good Christmas until the latest lockdown was announced. This will have a fairly severe impact on the village because the five or six days of Christmas are normally a boom for this time of the year, particularly for this year with the impact of the pandemic.

“There is some socialising but nothing like the extent that would normally be the case. There was a fear that a lot of people who emigrated to the United Kingdom might return and this might create a wave but the numbers that have returned aren’t of the kind that would cause a huge issue now.

“Compared to other lockdowns, we are far less apprehensive.”

He said the main worry in Lahinch, which relies a lot on tourism, is the economic impact of more expected lockdowns as restaurants and cafes have experienced a difficult year.

If the next lockdown extends for two months, he stressed more economic supports for businesses will needed.

He urged the government to extend the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme until at least the end of June as people were not confident about travelling due to health concerns and he doesn’t expect this will change until well after Easter.

Doonbeg publican Tommy Comerford said it is extremely quiet in the Long Village and he doesn’t envisage any large influx of visitors as most businesses are closed due to the pandemic.

Apart from locals buying groceries in local shops, he said visitors are very conscious of the virus and are not travelling to the village at this stage.

Dan Danaher

About Dan Danaher

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