Tom Byrne of Anthem Music, Portlaoise who re-opened on Monday
As Portlaoise retail businesses re-opened on Monday morning, the Chair of Downtown Portlaoise Mark Healy summed up the atmosphere as one of excitement within the business community that the day had finally arrived.
"Everybody is very excited. It has been a tough time and today is the first step. There is tremendous support and goodwill from the local community," noted Mark.
"For the past week, for example, I have been running between our businesses, The Pantry and Nook and Cranny and people are stopping us on the street and wishing us the best of luck.
"The overall sense is that we are all in this together and the message is to stay positive. Penhouse Design, for example, has been very supportive and have done a lot of complimentary work for Downtown Portlaoise."
More below picture of Ladonnna McCartan at the opening of her shop on Portlaoise's Main Street.
The Downtown group met recently with Laois County Council and Mark Healy praised the Council's supportive role.
While the message and focus is on the positive, Mark acknowledged there is a hefty expense on businesses as they re-open and alter their premises to ensure safety at all times.
This is particularly so on the hospitality side. "We are trying to protect our customers and staff and we are happy to invest in that," said Mark.
The Downtown Portlaoise group currently has a survey running for businesses. "About 40 businesses have taken part so far. The feedback is showing that while there is certainly concern, people are also hopeful.
"No one is at the despair stage. The sense is that there is a way out of this."