Outdoor dining back on the menu for Portlaoise

Lynda Kiernan


Lynda Kiernan


Main Street Portlaoise in July 2020.

For the second year, the Covid-19 pandemic social distancing restrictions will bring diners out onto the Main Street in Portlaoise this summer.

Businesses will again be allowed to take over some public parking spaces to place chairs and tables for customers so they can operate within the guidelines on social distancing.

Laois County Council has announced that it will again support the reuse of its public spaces to help local shops, restaurants and pubs to stay in business.
“Laois County Council is amenable to and supports the reallocation of public spaces insofar as that reallocation of space is in the general public interest and supports local economic activity.
“As public health restrictions ease Laois County Council will proactively engage with any retail and hospitality businesses that are seeking access to public spaces in support of their business recovery,” the local authority has said.

The statement was made at the February meeting of the Portlaoise Municipal District, in answer to a motion by Cllr Mary Sweeney.
She requested an update on the plan to facilitate public spaces for retail and hospitality once restrictions ease.
“It's difficult to predict when businesses will fully reopen given the unpredictability of the virus and the vaccine rollout but its important we are ready for that hopeful day,” she said.

Thanking the council for their past co-operation with local businesses, Cllr Sweeney asked what can be done to improve on last year.
“I would encourage the council to work with local businesses to assess what can be done and to identify any new proposals that can reinvigorate and support our town centres and our business community,” she said.

She also asks Laois County Council to apply for €250,000 of new funding announced last week for each local authority to open up outdoor public spaces dedicated to Arts culture, festivals and the night-time economy.
“I recognise that we are all finding it difficult to imagine any of these events right now but to ensure the viability of these sectors we need to support them and have plans in place,” she said.