Coronavirus: Shops plan to limit customers and set rules on queuing

‘Prepare for a new way of shopping for essential items to keep us safe and healthy’

A man pictured at O’Connell Monument on Dublin’s O’Connell St. Many  retailers have opted to close in a bid to slow the spread of  Covid-19. Photograph: Collins

A man pictured at O’Connell Monument on Dublin’s O’Connell St. Many retailers have opted to close in a bid to slow the spread of Covid-19. Photograph: Collins

 

Irish retail is set to be transformed in the coming days with multiple store closures and changes to the layout of supermarkets and pharmacies to ensure essential supplies are maintained and customers and staff are kept safe.

On what he described as the “the hardest and most challenging day” in Irish retail history, with multiple store closures across the State and many thousands of people losing their jobs due to the coronavirus crisis, the chief executive of Retail Excellence David Fitzsimons outlined a series of changes.

In a letter to more than 2,000 shop owners Mr Fitzsimons said most retailers in their organisation had started laying-off staff.

He said in the coming days “there will be significant layout reformatting of pharmacies and food stores. These stores will have very clear guidelines regarding the number of customers in store, where you must stand, how you must pay. Please respect this guidance,” he said.

Among the shops that have already closed are all Mothercare outlets across State as well as Kilkenny Design shops, the Skechers shoe brand. Paddy Power is set to announce it is is closing all its stores on Monday evening.

Mr Fitzsimons said retailers needed to be reminded that they had “done the right thing [by closing in a bid to curb the spread of the virus]. You are protecting your company and guaranteeing that when this is over, your great people have a job to return to,” he said.

Mr Fitzsimons said it had been “an even more challenging day for all of our essential workers in pharmacy and food”.

He said “when this is all over we need to celebrate their work and assistance. They are our first responders and we greatly appreciate all that they are doing for us today and over the coming days.”

He said employers had an obligation to respect the confidentiality of employees and “therefore should not disclose the nature of any illness disclosed to them by such employees from a fundamental confidentiality perspective as well as from a GDPR perspective”.

He said his organisation had received hundreds of distressing phone calls and emails.

“It has been upsetting for everyone to see what is happening. The next few days will be even more challenging. We will need to prepare for a new way of shopping for essential items. This new way will keep us all safe and healthy”.

He urged retailers who had closed to switch off and keep safe and stressed that “commerce will return in Ireland. When this is all over we will host a party for you all. We will look back on what happened and celebrate how we got through it together.”