Covid-19: What we can expect when shops reopen next week

Consumers will face staggered hours and social distance wardens, among other things

Anyone looking forward to a leisurely day’s shopping on Monday when retail starts to reopen after almost three months of enforced closure is in for a rude awakening.

Queues will be the new norm, changing rooms will be shut, staff will wear PPE, shoppers will have face masks, and all the tactile experiences that make shopping one of the most popular hobbies in Ireland will have largely disappeared, as social distancing measures continue amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Minister for Enterprise Heather Humphreys said as much at a press conference on Friday held to announce the fast-tracking of the reopening of the Irish retail world.

“When we return to the high street next week it will not be the one that we left behind,” she said. “The shopping experience will be different. Be prepared to queue. For many of us leisurely browsing will have to be replaced by purposeful, direct shopping.”


She stressed that people would be expected to “show personal responsibility and be respectful of other customers and staff”, and she encouraged people “to shop local and support local businesses”.

Under the reopening plans, shops may not open until 10.30am and they will be required to operate staggered hours while allocating dedicated times to the elderly and other consumers at risk.

Surprise move

In a surprise move, it was also confirmed that shopping malls will be able to open on June 15th, but measures will have to be put in place to ensure that people cannot congregate in them. Food courts will remain closed and people will be expected to go in, do their shopping and leave.

Ikea is among the largest retailers to confirm it will open on Monday and it has detailed the series of enhanced safety measures that have been put in place to protect staff and shoppers.

The Swedish retailer will limit the numbers of customers allowed in to its stores at any one time and has set a limit of two people per customer group.

There will be so-called social distance wardens throughout its stores to help customers find their way around the new one-way system and ensure new social distancing measures are being followed. Ikea is also urging customers to come prepared with ready-made lists and their own bags.

It has also installed hand sanitiser facilities and more frequent deep cleaning routines for bags, trolleys, bathrooms, rest areas, equipment and touchscreens and will only accept cashless payments.

“While the experience might be a little different to before – it’s the same Ikea,” its market manager in Dublin, Martyn Allan, said.

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor and cohost of the In the News podcast