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Non-essential retailers in Ireland to close for six weeks

By Huw Hughes

20 Oct 2020

The Republic of Ireland has announced a new six-week lockdown as the country, like many in Europe, faces a rapid increase in Covid-19 cases.

As of Wednesday night/Thursday morning, the country is being placed on Level 5 - the highest level - of the country’s ‘Plan for Living with Covid’. The government has decided however to keep schools and childcare facilities open in order to support families and continue education.

“We work to suppress the virus when it is growing, and we work to reopen as much of our society and economy as possible when it is safe to do so,” said Ireland’s prime minister Micheál Martin. “Until we have a safe vaccine, we must continue in that pattern.”

Martin continued: “In the effort to suppress the virus we have already introduced what is probably Europe’s strictest regime. As a result of this, we can see some evidence that these restrictions have been effective in slowing the growth and spread of the virus.

“However, as the daily figures show, these restrictions, on their own, have not been enough to significantly reduce the levels of infection. So, while we have slowed the spread of the virus, this has not been enough and further action is now required.”

Full lockdown ‘simply not a realistic option’

Commenting on calls for the government to take a ‘Zero Covid’ approach, a total lockdown where borders are shut until the virus has been eliminated, Martin said: “[G]iven our geographic location and proximity to Britain and mainland Europe, and with two jurisdictions on our island, the advice of NPHET is, and our view as a Government is that this is simply not a realistic option.”

The country’s trade body Retail Ireland described the move as a “serious blow” to non-essential retailers, many of which were counting on the run-up to Christmas to compensate for significant revenue losses incurred earlier in the year.

Retail Ireland director Arnold Dillon said: “Many retailers are facing into a deeply uncertain Christmas trading period. Many thousands of businesses will have to close and tens of thousands of retail workers will be out of work.

“It is important that customers support affected businesses through online and click and collect services where possible. While important government supports are in place, those retailers without a developed online offering are particularly exposed.

“The restoration of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment will provide important support to many and is very welcome. It is crucial that these measures work and we are in a place to reopen retail in advance of Christmas. We simply cannot contemplate serious rolling restrictions into the future.”

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