Parts of the department stores, Brown Thomas and Arnotts, will reopen to shoppers next week on June 10th and 11th respectively, weeks earlier than had previously been expected under the Government's lockdown easing plan.
The Government’s plan states that smaller retail outlets can reopen under phase two on June 8th while larger retail outlets, such as department stores, were not expected to reopen until phase three on June 29th.
Brown Thomas and Arnotts, however, will both reopen in part, just after the phase two date, under plans to divide their ground floors up into separate smaller silos that effectively will be operated as individual stores with their own street entrances.
Both stores are owned by UK group, Selfridges, which has already reopened the Holt Renfrew outlet in Canada and De Bijenkorf in the Netherlands.
The flagship Brown Thomas outlet on Dublin’s Grafton Street will be first to reopen on Wednesday of next week, with its ground floor broken up into five separate silos.
Customers will not be able to move between the silos in-store, which will all be accessed via different ground level entrances on Grafton Street and around the corner on Wicklow Street.
The beauty hall will reopen on June 10th with its own entrance, while the Mac store will also reopen as a silo with a different entrance. The Hermes/Chanel section will also reopen as an individual store next Wednesday, while the Luis Vuitton store will do likewise. The accessories hall will also reopen with its own entrance.
All other parts of the store will remain closed off from the individually sectioned outlets, until full reopening is allowed under the Government’s plan.,
Arnotts, which has its main entrance on Henry Street, will reopen its ground floor section in three separate bits next Thursday, June 11th. Again, the individual sections will be in silos with no customer access between them, while all non-ground floor areas will remain closed until phase three.
The Arnotts beauty section will be accessed as an individual store from Henry Street. There will also be two different menswear stores, accessed from Liffey Street and Abbey Street.
The focus shifts to outside the capital on June 12th, when the Brown Thomas store in Cork will reopen its ground floor only in five separate silos, while similar moves will take place in its stores in Limerick and Galway.
The Government is under pressure from lobbyist across the businesses sector to speed up the reopening of the economy if earlier phase reopenings show no spike in infections.
Local management of Brown Thomas and Arnotts confirmed that staff had been informed of the reopening schedule, but insisted it would at all times adhere to the Government’s schedule.
Last week, the company confirmed it would introduce a range of anti-virus safety measures, including the regular sanitising of items on the shopfloor handled by customers, as well as screens displaying the numbers of people in-store and a booking service to allow people to reserve time slots for entry.