"We went from printing a Sunday lunch menu to printing signs for the front door saying we were closing later that evening."

Although not without warning, the decision to close the Foyle Hotel in Moville, Co Donegal, last month, was still a sudden wrench for owner and chef, Brian McDermott.

€2 million had been spent renovating the premises on the main street of the town and opening the business was the culmination of his career in hospitality.

That investment and commitment, along with 25 jobs, now hangs in the balance.

"All I can hear is the noise of the fridges we have left on, and the air fans literally talking to me." 

"I'm finding it hard to stay away from the hotel. I'm here every day, maybe up to ten hours, doing jobs twice over," he said. 

A video, filmed on his phone inside the hotel, is a window into how quickly life can be taken from a business.

The camera pans around showing deserted hotel corridors and bedrooms, restaurant tables lying bare and empty fridges behind the bar.

With graphic honesty, Mr McDermott said the closure has made him physically ill.

"It is hard to stomach. I have vomited in here. 

"It's a really empty feeling. One that probably a week into this I couldn't have spoken about because it was just damaging me and our family so much," he explained. 

"All I can hear is the noise of the fridges we have left on, and the air fans literally talking to me." 

It is an eerie, unnerving description.

The Foyle Hotel is just one of thousands of businesses up and down the country in a state of stasis and Mr McDermott said there is only a 50-50 chance that his establishment can reopen.

"Everyone is going to be marketing in the same space for the same people. When that door opens are we guaranteed one customer or 100? We don't know.

"Possibly there will be goodwill and a local burst, but key to the business is the bedrooms and they will not be filled immediately."

Mr McDermott worries guests may be wary of staying in hotel rooms if Covid-19 has not been completely eliminated. He is also conscious that a young business like his will struggle to cover the immediate overheads once reopening is permitted.

"If we are told on a Sunday that we can open on a Monday - we can't. We need stock and staff. We need to give the staff the confidence that we have salaries covered for the challenging first weeks.

"We could be looking at figures of around €100,000 in working capital. Are banks prepared to loan that to a less than two year-old business? 

While his business is a young one, Elaine Clogan's family has owned O'Donnell's boutique in Limerick City since 1946. 

Closing the doors last month was also a difficult, emotional moment. 

"I was so upset and so teary and my parents happened to be driving past at the moment I was sellotaping the sign to the door. That was very, very difficult," Ms Colgan said. 

'We need to fight it together to get out safely, healthily and hopefully back in business'

"We were just shocked. We had never been closed." 

O'Donnell's shop is full of summer stock - bright colours, light fabrics. Perfect for the holiday trade that she is now worried they will never see.

"We have 30 days credit with our suppliers but we have to pay them this week coming. 

"We have tried to negotiate but we haven't got anywhere because they are in the same boat. I'm looking around at all the stock asking, 'oh my god what are we going to do'?" 

Ms Colgan thinks retailers like O'Donnell's will struggle to reopen if strict social distancing conditions are maintained.

"I don't think we can provide a safe environment to open unless we say one customer at a time, but who wants to come into a store with that pressure behind them? 

She also thinks the prospect of a 'v' shaped recovery - sharp drop, sharp rise - is unlikely.

"When there is a vaccine people will return to normal but I think it's going to take us so long to build up the business again." 

Notwithstanding the shock of the closure, financial and emotional, Ms Colgan is convinced the company made the right decision to close. 

"My grandfather opened this shop after the war and I realise that now the world is at war with this.

"We need to fight it together to get out safely, healthily and hopefully back in business."