Retail industry welcomes move to keep sector open under new Covid plans
22 December 2020
Retail Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the retail sector, today welcomed the decision by government to keep all of retail open and trading under new Covid restrictions. The group stressed that the health and safety of customers and staff would remain the top priority.
“Avoiding further retail restrictions is key to the viability of many businesses in the sector,” said Retail Ireland director Arnold Dillon.
“Customers are shopping very differently to how they used to, they are spending shorter periods in shops and browsing less,” he added.
“These trends, combined with the extensive public health measures already in place, has meant that only a tiny fraction of Covid cases have been linked to retail settings.”
Dillon said the low case rate “provides a solid basis for keeping all of retail open and trading over the coming weeks and months. The rapid roll-out of the vaccine is now crucial to getting the entire economy back to normal.”
Responding to the government’s request for shops not to hold January sales, Dillon stressed “public health is the absolute priority.
“The sector will work with Government to implement any additional measures needed to ensure the safety of customers and staff,” he said.
Under the new Level 5 restrictions with some modifications, restaurants and pubs serving food will close at 3pm on Christmas Eve. Hairdressers and personal services will also close from Christmas Eve. Hotels will be allowed to open for Christmas, after which they will be allowed to provide services to guests only. Schools will also stay open.
Meanwhile, gyms, leisure centres and swimming pools can stay open, but only for individual exercise. People will be allowed train outdoors, but only in pods of 15 or fewer. No sports matches can take place apart from those at elite level.
Visits from two households will be allowed until St Stephen’s Day, but that will then be reduced to one household until 31 December, and home visits will be banned completely in January.
It is understood the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) warned the government that the growth in infections is now running at 10% a day, which if it continued unchecked would threaten to overwhelm the health service within a few weeks.
The restrictions are due to be reviewed on 12 January, but Tánaiste Leo Varadkar warned that they could be in place for months to come.