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Debunked: Sorry, that 'announcement ' from Penneys saying it's reopening on 8 June is fake

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

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OVER THE LAST week, a message has been shared across Facebook and WhatsApp claiming to be an official statement from clothing and homeware retailer Penneys.

The statement, which has the Penneys lettering at the top, says that stores across Ireland are set to reopen on 8 June with strict social distancing measures being enforced. 

It reads: “There’s good news for Penneys fans as the chain store is due to reopen on June 8th after the coronavirus pandemic finally begins to ease. 

“All those who love shopping full stop (sic) will be able to once again enjoy going to the shops, as long as they maintain social distancing and possibly wear a mask.”

A number of alarm bells rang when this post was first shared with TheJournal.ie. Firstly, the Penneys logo is formatted oddly, and the text of the ‘statement’ does not attribute the information to anyone. 

Additionally, there has been no press release sent to the media to say that one of the nation’s largest fashion retailers is to reopen.

The message was spread on a number of websites in Ireland, including The Liberal, which appears to have not contacted Penneys for a comment and posted an article based solely on the fake statement. 

One of the posts we found on social media has been shared hundreds of times. It is one of many Facebook pages which has been caught out by the fake. 

image Source: WhatsApp

In a statement to TheJournal.ie, Penneys said that the message is a fake and that the chain will only reopen its doors once it is safe to do so. 

A spokeswoman said: “We have not made any announcement about re-opening in Ireland and social media posts which are circulating with an opening date are false.

Nothing matters more to us than the health and wellbeing of our employees and customers. That is why we will only re-open our stores once we are convinced that it is safe and right to do so. We are closely following all safety advice from government, and will treat this as the minimum standard across all our stores.

Even if Penneys wanted to reopen on 8 June, it would not be permitted as per the Government’s plan for reopening the country.

It says that the only shops that can reopen on 8 June under the current plan are “small retail outlets with a small number of staff”. Under the plan, the earliest Penneys can reopen will be 29 June, and even then, the roadmap has strict guidelines about what will be allowed. 

Misinfo Graphic 0605 Penneys V3

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There is a lot of false news and scaremongering being spread in Ireland at the moment about coronavirus. Here are some practical ways for you to assess whether the messages that you’re seeing – especially on WhatsApp – are true or not.

STOP, THINK AND CHECK

Look at where it’s coming from. Is it someone you know? Do they have a source for the information (e.g. the HSE website) or are they just saying that the information comes from someone they know? A lot of the false news being spread right now is from people claiming that messages from ‘a friend’ of theirs. Have a look yourself – do a quick Google search and see if the information is being reported elsewhere.

Secondly, get the whole story, not just a headline. A lot of these messages have got vague information (“all the doctors at this hospital are panicking”) and don’t mention specific details. This is often – but not always a sign – that it may not be accurate.

Finally, see how you feel after reading it. A lot of these false messages are designed to make people feel panicked. They’re deliberately manipulating your feelings to make you more likely to share it. If you feel panicked after reading something, check it out and see if it really is true.

TheJournal.ie’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here. For information on how FactCheck works, what the verdicts mean, and how you can take part, check out our Reader’s Guide here. You can read about the team of editors and reporters who work on the factchecks here

Have you gotten a message on WhatsApp or Facebook or Twitter about coronavirus that you’re not sure about and want us to check it out? Message or mail us and we’ll look into debunking it. WhatsApp: 085 221 4696 or Email: answers@thejournal.ie   

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