Businesses say 24-hour notice of Level 4 Covid restrictions ‘disappointing’

Only essential retail outlets allowed to stay open under Level 4

 People eat at an outdoor table in front of a shuttered business near Times Square in New York on Wednesday. Photograph:  EPA/Justin Lane

People eat at an outdoor table in front of a shuttered business near Times Square in New York on Wednesday. Photograph: EPA/Justin Lane


It is “disappointing” that once again businesses are being subjected to increased restrictions at such short notice, the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (Ibec) has said.

Danny McCoy, chief executive of Ibec, said while the business community understands the need for phased restrictions may be justified, “affording only 24 hours to prepare for such restrictions can have devastating cost implications for managing perishable stock and workplace planning”.

The Government announced on Wednesday night that Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal will move to Level 4 of its Living with Covid plan from midnight on Thursday until November 10th.

Under Level 4, people should not have any visitors to their homes, the maximum number of attendees at a wedding is six, non-essential retail will close, and all non-essential workers are to work from home, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said construction and manufacturing will remain under the right conditions.

A nationwide ban on visits to homes or gardens in almost all circumstances, except for providing care to children or elderly and vulnerable people was also announced on Wednesday.

Mr McCoy said it is “abundantly clear” that livelihoods as well as lives need to be protected.

“Businesses and their employees are being left to pick up the pieces from the impacts of additional restrictions and their input should be sought in a structured manner prior to making such decisions,” he said.

“This is a new phase, we need to live and work with Covid and this demands a new style and tone no matter the response. Businesses are facing financial and psychological hardship, and the continued dearth of communication is extremely worrying.

“Ibec notes that it is positive that construction activity is being maintained under Level 4 restrictions and that the definition for what is deemed ‘essential retail’ has been extended. Targeted interventions that look to keep as many businesses open as is possible must now be provided to those businesses most in need.”

Level 4 restrictions mean only “essential retail and businesses that are primarily outdoors” only can remain open with all other retail and personal services closed.

Under Level 3 all shops and shopping centres may remain open. “All services such as hairdressers, beauticians, barbers and opticians may remain open with strict adherence to sectoral guidance on protective measures,” the guidance says.

Under Level 4, essential retail allowed to stay open includes:

  • outlets selling food or beverages on a takeaway basis, or newspapers, whether on a retail or wholesale basis and whether in a non-specialised or specialised outlet;
  • markets that, wholly or principally, offer food for sale;
  • outlets selling products necessary for the essential upkeep and functioning of places of residence and businesses, whether on a retail or wholesale basis;
  • pharmacies, chemists and retailers or wholesalers providing pharmaceuticals or pharmaceutical or dispensing services, whether on a retail or wholesale basis;
  • outlets selling health, medical or orthopaedic goods in a specialised outlet, whether on a retail or wholesale basis;
  • fuel service stations and heating fuel providers;
  • outlets selling essential items for the health and welfare of animals (including animal feed and veterinary medicinal products, pet food, animal bedding and animal supplies), whether on a retail or wholesale basis;
  • laundries and drycleaners;
  • banks, post offices and credit unions;
  • outlets selling safety supplies (including work-wear apparel, footwear and personal protective equipment), whether on a retail or wholesale basis;
  • hardware outlets, builders’ merchants and outlets that provide, whether on a retail or wholesale basis;
  • hardware products necessary for home and business maintenance or construction and development;
  • sanitation and farm equipment;
  • supplies and tools essential for gardening, farming or agriculture purposes
  • optician and optometrist outlets;
  • outlets providing hearing test services or selling hearing aids and appliances;
  • outlets providing for the sale, supply, repair and maintenance of mechanically propelled vehicles or for the repair of bicycles and any related facilities (including tyre sales and repairs);
  • outlets selling office products and services for businesses or for applicable persons working from their respective places of residence, whether on a retail or wholesale basis;
  • outlets providing electrical, information and communications technology and telephone sales, repair and maintenance services for places of residence and businesses;
  • other retail may open for click and collect, where it can be appropriately managed within public health guidelines.