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Penneys to close all its Irish stores until further notice due to coronavirus

Some 5,000 employees will be affected by the closures.

Image: Shutterstock/Robson90

PENNEYS IS TO close its Irish stores in response to the coronavirus crisis until further notice.

The retailer and Mandate general secretary John Douglas confirmed the news to TheJournal.ie, and the company said this would affect 5,000 staff.

The decision from Penneys – which operates 37 stores in Ireland – comes after it was announced earlier that Brown Thomas and Arnotts would shut its doors in response to the outbreak.

While schools, colleges and public institutions have been ordered shut – and pubs followed suit last weekend – it had been up to individual retailers to decide what course of action it would take in response to the outbreak.

Douglas said: “Staff will be paid their rostered hours for the next two weeks,” adding the situation would be reviewed at that time.

Mandate is urging action from the government after the retail sector has taken a severe hit as the Covid-19 outbreak really begins to hit a number of industries.

“Government now needs to prioritise not only the health of workers, but also their ability to survive on a daily basis for their families,” Douglas said earlier.

“Frankly the €203 Euro Covid-19 payment falls far short of what is required to sustain most families, employers with the assistance of government funding should be instructed to pay all impacted workers the equivalent of their normal net take home pay.”

He added that the move to pay employees – as indicated by Penneys, Arnotts and Brown Thomas – for the next two weeks was a welcome step.

The union boss added: “With the exception of essential food retailers, it is more than likely as this crisis deepens that more and more department stores and non- food outlets will be forced to close. This also will have a knock-on impact on the suppliers of goods and services to these stores.

The tsunami of temporary job lay-offs should not be allowed to swamp already stressed-out workers and their families.

In a statement to TheJournal.ie, a spokesperson for Penneys said: “With the health and welfare of our employees and customers front of mind, we have made the decision to close our stores in the Republic of Ireland, until further notice. 

“Penneys has overcome many challenges over the past 50 years, and we pride ourselves on our agility and our ability to adapt. We thank all our employees, customers, suppliers and partners for their continued support.”

So far, 292 people have been diagnosed with Covid-19 in Ireland. That figure is expected to reach as many as 15,000 in the coming weeks.

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Sean Murray

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