Oct 20, 2020
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Non-essential stores face six-week shutdown in Ireland

Oct 20, 2020

Retailers in the Republic of Ireland are faced with a second period of enforced closure this year as all non-essential retail, as well as hairdressers and beauty salons, have been told to shut for six weeks. The rules come as the government moves to Level 5 of its coronavirus reaction strategy.

Non-essential stores in Ireland must now close for six weeks - Photo: commons.wikimwedia.org

Trade body Retail Ireland called it “a serious blow” and said it was concerned that some vulnerable retail businesses won't survive this latest shutdown. Dublin’s trade group Dublin Town echoed this view. Retail Ireland also called on the government to set out a clear strategy for exiting the current phase, because despite the government having given a date for the lockdown to end, previous experience this year has shown that this doesn't mean everything goes back to normal instantly. 

And another trade group, Retail Excellence, also highlighted the terrible timing of the closures coming as the Christmas shopping season gets under way and predicted the potential loss of 60,000 jobs.

The Irish government had resisted calls for a second lockdown in recent weeks but had its hand forced by rising infection levels in the country and said when it announced the new phase that it hopes the timing will mean the public will be able to celebrate Christmas with some degree of normality.

Ireland’s government head Michael Martin said the restrictions will end on December 1. The Taoiseach added: “Even as the winter comes in, there is hope, and there is light. If we pull together over the next six weeks, we will have the chance to celebrate Christmas in a meaningful way. We must persevere and we must be resilient.”

But it's understandable how concerned retailers are. November and December are the busiest times of year and while non-essential shops will be able to open during December, if consumer behaviour follows a similar trajectory to that of the earlier post-lockdown period, physical shops could still be shunned with shoppers turning online in large numbers.

The closure of shops in Ireland comes as its nearest neighbour, the UK, puts in place a varied series of measures that differ not only between the four nations of the UK but between different areas, particularly in England. Some observers have expressed doubts that current measures in England will be enough and think that stronger semi or total lockdowns will be needed.

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