The tourist resort of Carlingford in Co Louth is normally packed with weekend visitors soaking up the dramatic mountain scenery, and stag and hen parties enjoying the night life.
But, with just two bars remaining open, customers are scarce and a cut in VAT on food and extra support for businesses in Tuesday’s Irish budget provided little cheer at the relatively deserted Taaffes Castle Bar.
Taaffes manager Aisling Johnston, 32, said: “Carlingford is such a busy tourist place, beautiful and with something for everyone with its nightlife and scenery.
“Right now it is just like a shell.”
Staffing numbers on a Saturday have been cut from 11 to one, while food is no longer served because the pub cannot afford to pay staff.
They can only remain open because they have an outside area to serve drink.
From serving hundreds of thirsty customers, they are down to a maximum of 15 outdoors as the temperatures drop.
COVID cases in Ireland have seen a sharp rise in recent weeks, with 808 new cases reported on Tuesday – nearly double what they were at the start of October.
Watch: What is a no deal Brexit?
Northern Ireland is also set to impose a four-week circuit breaker lockdown from Friday – the first part of the UK to introduce the measure.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer urged Boris Johnson to impose a two-three week lockdown for the rest of the country, something that has so far been resisted by the government.
Ireland’s new coalition government unveiled its first Budget in Dublin on Tuesday, spending heavily in an attempt to combat the pandemic’s economic damage, and the threat of a no-deal Brexit.
VAT on hospitality businesses has been cut from 13.5 to 9%, but on alcohol it remains at 23%.
Taaffes’ manager said she was pleased to see that the drink tax was not increased but said: “They have dished out too many blows to us already.”
The budget assumes there will be no trade deal between the EU and the UK, which could mean a massive blow to Ireland’s economy.
Ms Johnston said a lot of her customers came from Northern Ireland.
“There is talk of the border counties going into another lockdown due to the higher cases in the north,” she added.
Adrian McGreevy, who runs Carlingford Adventure Centre, said the combination of Brexit and the virus represented the perfect storm for businesses like his.
He said: “Everything is just up in the air at the minute.
“It is hard to invest and push your business forward when you do not know what is coming down the line, not even down the line, in the next couple of months.”
He said efforts to boost staycationing had been pulled back because the authorities no longer wanted to encourage travel.
Boris Johnson has scrapped the 15 October deadline for Brexit negotiations, signalling that a deal with the EU may yet be possible in the coming weeks.
Downing Street is believed to be keen to wait for any positive signs from a crunch summit of European leaders in Brussels on Thursday and Friday.
Watch: What are freeports?