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Shops to be allowed sell children's shoes in store, by appointment only

The Tánaiste had earlier confirmed that work is underway on the issue.

Image: Shutterstock/Nagy-Bagoly Arpad

Updated Mar 31st 2021, 2:35 PM

CHILDREN’S SHOES ARE to be added to the essential retail list.

The move was announced by Health Minister Stephen Donnelly today, who said that children’s shoe shops “need to be opened immediately”.

Taoiseach Michéal Martin and Tánaiste Leo Varadkar have also confirmed that to buy children’s shoes people will need to make appointments online or over the phone.

Varadkar told the Dáil that the advice announced today is currently being worked on. 

Guidance from government is expected on the issue soon.

Speaking to the News at One on RTÉ One, Donnelly said that he had listened to some of the doctors speaking on the issue and the medical implications of not having the right shoes for children’s growing feet.

“I am clearly of the view that they need to be added to the essential retail list, specifically for children’s shoes. The acting Chief Medical Officer [Ronan Glynn] and I have spoken about it this morning and it is something I fully support and want to see implemented immediately.”

Earlier today The Journal broke the news that the new plans were set to be announced, as government wanted to ensure that children who require new shoes are able to get the right shoes for their requirements.

Today’s announcement from Donnelly comes after calls for change from parents and doctors on the issue.

Yesterday a number of parents spoke to The Journal about issues around purchasing children’s shoes – particularly children who need splints due to muscle tone issues.

Last night, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar had told RTÉ Prime Time that children’s shoes “are essential”, and that he had “heard some instances of children who need special medical footwear”.

“I think we’ll need to look at that if there’s a particular condition they have”,” he said last night.

The parents who spoke to The Journal yesterday said that while they understood shoe shops might not be able to be opened for casual browsing, they were hoping the government could allow shoe shops to open for appointments.

One parent, June Shannon, said yesterday:

You can buy Easter eggs and cuddly toys for Easter but you can’t buy shoes for your children. It seems to me to be ridiculous.

Another parent, Jen Mitchell, told us about how she needs to purchase shoes that can fit an AFO (ankle-foot orthosis) for her daughter who has mobility issues. The shoe needs to be large enough to accommodate the AFO, which makes measurement very tricky.

She said that with the AFOs, it’s harder to judge the growth of children’s feet and when a new pair of shoes is needed. Though she bought a pair of shoes in a larger size before Christmas for her daughter, she already needs a new pair.  

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“I assumed all shops were closed,” said Mitchell yesterday. “It’s this lack of messaging [that is the issue]. It’s hard enough for people to buy shoes, but for people whose kids are in AFOs, not knowing and not having clarity as to whether they can make an appointment at a shoe shop [is difficult].” 

Click-and-collect

Yesterday, during the latest update on Covid-19 restrictions, it was announced that the ban on click-and-collect will continue until May.

Retailers have said they are disappointed with this news. Speaking today, Duncan Graham from Retail Excellence said that as time has gone on, the restrictions on ‘non-essential’ retail have become more restrictive.

“Inevitably once you get to a point where you’ve gone through what amounts to three months [of lockdown], it will be four months by the time we get out of this,” he said. “The line between what’s essential and non-essential gets very blurred. It’s all very well and good in January saying clothing and children’s footwear is non-essential. It’s a different message altogether at the end of March when we’ve been locked down for 12 weeks, that is now essential at that point.”

He added: “On one hand you have got the consumer demand and on the other hand you have got retailers who are desperate to get open. It’s very evident at the moment that who is essential and non-essential piece is starting to unravel. Unless there is some give from government or some further clarity from government, it only starts to get more difficult as weeks go on.”

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