12,000 business reopening today as Covid curbs ease
12,000 businesses are expected to reopen their premises this week as Covid-19 restrictions ease further starting from today.
Non-essential retailers across the country can resume click and collect, shopping by appointment and outdoor services from this morning.
While personal services, such as hairdressers, barbers and beauticians can also open after more than five months closed.
Estate agents can also resume holding property viewings by appointment from today.
However, the Government has said wherever possible, people should continue to work from home.
The Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment estimates around 100,000 people will return work this month as the restrictions are reduced.
Tánaiste Leo Varadakar has described it as a significant week for business.
“As Minister for Enterprise I want to thank companies for their efforts and those of their staff in getting to this point,” he said.
“Thanks to your diligence in fighting the pandemic, and those of the general public, we can move on to the next phase of reopening.”
“This has been the longest lockdown since the pandemic began. I am determined to do all we can to ensure that it is the last.”
However, he added that where possible, people should continue to work from home.
“The virus is still circulating, and around two thirds of the adult population have yet to receive the vaccine,” the Tanaiste said.
“Mixing in the workplace can allow the virus to spread, so we all need to continue playing our part in defeating this cruel virus.”
Mr Varadkar also said a revised version of the Work Safely Protocol will be launched in the near future after it is updated to include fresh advice on ventilation and workplace antigen testing.
Retailers will have to wait until next week before they can full open their stores without the need for appointments or click and collect services alone.
Nevertheless, they have welcomed the opportunity to get trading again, despite reports that many have struggled to recruit enough staff to enable them to operate extended trading hours to meet pend up demand.
“Now, it is critically important that once we reopen, we stay open,” said Duncan Graham, managing director of Retail Excellence.
“Retailers have lost too much business and many are already on the brink so they cannot afford to shut their doors again under any circumstances.”
Mr Graham added that customers should be confident that retailers are maintaining strict Covid-19 guidelines.
But he added that businesses will require ongoing financial help over the months ahead.
Government supports are to remain in place until at least the end of June to help businesses that are reopening to get back trading again, and to provide ongoing assistance to those that remain closed.
New supports are also being developed for those most affected by the restrictions, the Tanaiste confirmed.
“These will be announced at the end of May,” Mr Varadkar claimed.
Companies reopening this week will be eligible for a double payment under the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme for each of the next two weeks to help defray additional one-off costs.
On Friday, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan urged business owners, employees and customers to take great care and to review safety protocols.
He said people should only return to the workplace if it is necessary to do so and should continue to wear a mask, practice social distancing, good hand hygiene and cough etiquette.
Dublin city vacancy rates double in prime retail streets
The chief executive of the DublinTown business umbrella group said that retail premises are very pleased to see a partial return to business today, but many are financially fragile and need urgent support to survive.
Richard Guiney told Morning Ireland that vacancy rates have doubled in some prime retail streets where large international chains have pulled out and streets like Henry Street are vulnerable to this.
He said that at the peak of the last economic recession vacancy rates were over 15%, while it is now 30% in some streets.
Mr Guiney said that there is a real concern about maintaining a level of trade and that urgent interventions are needed to have a city that can function into the future.
He said that many businesses are financially fragile and vulnerable and are relived to be back trading in a limited way today.
Mr Guiney said other businesses are waiting to see if they will re-open, with footfall down by up to 60% during the last re-opening.