Shopping centres reopen today and nursing home visits resume

Strict protocols apply to retail outlet customers and visitors to residential facilities

Shopping centres are to reopen on Monday, and people can resume visiting loved ones in nursing homes and residential care facilities as the restrictions aimed at suppressing the coronavirus continue to ease.

“We’re expecting queues outside some retailers and we’ll be monitoring footfall in the centre overall,” a spokeswoman for Dundrum Shopping Centre in south Dublin said.

If it is felt there are too many people in the centre, then people will be asked to queue outside. “But we’re hoping it won’t come to that.”

People entering the shopping centre will be asked to walk in using a “one-way system” and will be encouraged to wear face masks.


Like many other shopping centres, some of Dundrum’s outlets, such as supermarkets, opticians and pharmacies, were already open, but now fashion outlets and other shops will be reopening.

Restaurants will not be providing “dining in” services and cinemas in the centre will remain closed.

The National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) has published a Shopping Centre Recovery and Protection Guide which says that centres should put in place measures that would limit the number of shoppers at any one time, and consider adjusting their opening hours so as to guard against over-crowding.

Face masks

It says signs should be put up to encourage the wearing of face masks, that non-essential facilities, such as playgrounds, should either be closed or controlled, and public wifi should be switched off to discourage people coming into the centres.

The Government had originally not envisaged reopening shopping centres until August 10th.

A phased introduction of visits to nursing homes and residential care facilities is also starting from Monday. Non-essential visits have been banned since early March.

“Families and friends across the country are counting down the minutes until they can visit and see, in person, their loved ones in nursing homes and residential care facilities,” said a spokesman for Sage Advocacy, which campaigns for vulnerable people and patients.

People are being advised to contact the facilities they want to visit, prior to doing so. Visits to facilities where there is a Covid-19 outbreak are not being allowed.

People who have any symptoms of Covid-19 infection or are feeling unwell, and people who have been told they are a close contact of someone confirmed as having Covid-19, should not visit residential facilities.

Visit conditions

The advice is that each resident should have only two named visitors, with only one of those people visiting at any one time, each visit being for a maximum of 30 minutes, one visit per person per week being allowed, and children under 16 years not being allowed visit.

It is also advised that the residential facilities ensure that each facility sets a limit on the number of visitors that can be in the facility at any one time.

“Visitors are required to wear a surgical mask if they are not able to maintain social distancing during the visit.

“This surgical mask will be provided by the facility and its disposal will be monitored.”

The bringing of food and drinks to the facilities is being prohibited and the use of the bathroom facilities in the centres is being discouraged.

The EU's home affairs commissioner, Ylva Johansson, last week suggested that member states might begin to reopen their borders from as early as this week. But the advice for people in the State continues to be that they should avoid unnecessary travel.

“We are still advising you should stay within your county, or 20km of home,” a spokesman for the Department of Health said.

People, including Irish citizens, who enter the State from outside Ireland, are still expected to self-isolate for 14 days.

Colm Keena

Colm Keena

Colm Keena is an Irish Times journalist. He was previously legal-affairs correspondent and public-affairs correspondent