Retail Ireland responds to Phase 1 easing of COVID restrictions

May 15, 2020

Responding to the announcement from Government today of the Phase 1 easing of COVID restrictions, Director of Retail Ireland Arnold Dillon said: “For stores that will reopen on Monday, public health is the absolute priority. This means managing social distancing effectively both inside and outside the shop, regular cleaning and more contactless payment. 

“The retail sector has totally transformed how it operates to ensure the safety of customers and staff. This will continue as other parts of the sector reopen. If public health objectives are met, we are hopeful that the timeline for the safe reopening of the entire sector can be brought forward.

“While public health is the priority, the late removal of homeware stores from the first phase of reopening is disappointing. Many businesses had invested a lot of time and money in preparing, in line with the roadmap guidance.

“The reopening timetable will leave many retailers closed for the foreseeable future. It must be kept under review and earlier reopening facilitated if public health objectives are met within in a shorter timeframe. Those business that survive will open up into a dramatically altered economic and public health environment. The focus now must be on protecting viable but vulnerable retailers through this period, followed by major reboot of the economy.

“Significant additional interventions will be needed to safeguard retail businesses and jobs. This must include measures to address the issue of commercial rent liabilities accrued during the shutdown, which many businesses will simply be unable to pay.”