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'It's a hammer blow': Retailers say they are in 'shock' at decision to shut non-essential shops

The move has been described as a “hammer blow” to retailers.

RETAIL EXCELLENCE HAS said it was left shocked by today’s announcement that all non-essential shops would have to close by 6pm tomorrow under new Level 5 restrictions. 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced that the nation is re-entering Level 5 as of midnight tonight and that all non-essential retail outlets will be given until close of business tomorrow to shut their doors. 

Retail Excellence expressed its “shock and dismay” at the decision of the Government to extend the new Covid-19 restrictions to include non-essential retail outlets.

The group represents retailers of all sizes across the country who collectively employ around 280,000 people. 

Duncan Graham, Chief Executive of Retail Excellence, described the move as “a hammer blow to the retail sector”. 

Graham said that retailers had followed Government guidelines since reopening just a few weeks ago and had carefully managed customer volumes and health and safety protocols.

He said: “We did everything we were asked to do over the Christmas period.  We restricted customer numbers in the run up to Christmas, we managed the post-Christmas period with great care and sensitivity as we were asked to and we paid huge attention to ensuring safety protocols were respected. 

“Even earlier this week the Taoiseach himself acknowledged that there is no evidence of retail contributing to the spread of the virus yet we are now forced to lockdown.”

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Graham added that the news would devastate local businesses across the country and that his heart goes out to our members who have worked so hard to prove they could be trusted to manage this difficult situation.

“After the year we have had, I fear that many shops that close now may never open again.  Our members will need urgent, significant financial support to have any chance of reopening and we will be seeking urgent meetings with the Government around how to manage rents, taxes and payroll given the extended lockdowns we have had to endure over the past nine months.”

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