There is frustration across Fermanagh today (April 30) as a number of pubs, bars and restaurants that were set to reopen with outdoor space have been told that their premises do not comply with the coronavirus restrictions. 

The situation has been described as "farcical" and "ludicrous" by one business owner.

Molly's Bar in Irvinestown, The Lough Inn and Culley's Bar (The Roadhouse) in Enniskillen are just a few of the Fermanagh hospitality establishments that have taken to social media to announce the "devastating news" that they can no longer open today after being informed at the eleventh hour that their premises don't meet the criteria that is being enforced by the Government.

Pat's Bar in Enniskillen, who had been fully booked for the next two weeks, have also announced that they are no longer reopening this weekend.

Speaking to The Impartial Reporter this morning, owner Michael Cadden said: "After a consultation yesterday with the local Council and the PSNI we have made the decision that at the minute it just isn't sustainable moving forwards to open, as excited as we've been about opening."

He noted how this is "frustrating" after all the preparations that have been made in the lead up to reopening, including stock that was bought in that could now go to waste.

"The change in the definition and the change in the way that the existing legislation has been delivered at that late stage is heartbreaking," he said, explaining that they were only informed of this criteria at 2pm yesterday afternoon (April 29).

"At first we were told we couldn't open the building at all but after further conversation with the Council officers, they acquiesced that we could open a portion of the yard.

"It was after 6pm yesterday that we were told that we could open in a limited way but we feel as a business because of the really small usable area that we have, we wouldn't be able to create an atmosphere so we are making the decision at this stage to not open at all until we can come up with a better solution for the customers," said Michael, adding: "It's important to note that the legislation has not changed from this year to last year, it is simply the way they are being told to administer that. As a business owner that is an incredibly frustrating position.

"It really is farcical to announce and publicise that outdoor hospitality can reopen and then to create barriers to make it impossible to then open.

"It's ludicrous," he told this newspaper.