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Tony Holohan says he doesn't anticipate recommending retailers to reopen early despite their pleas

Retail Excellence argued that the lockdown had been catastrophic for the sector.

A rainy Grafton Street, Dublin this morning.
A rainy Grafton Street, Dublin this morning.
Image: Leon Farrell/Rollingnews

Updated Nov 5th 2020, 7:05 PM

CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER Dr Tony Holohan said he doesn’t anticipate Nphet recommending to the Government that non-essential retailers be allowed return to business before the six-week lockdown ends. 

Speaking at this evening’s briefing, Holohan said Nphet is “not anticipating changing our advice – but obviously we keep it under review”.

There had been calls to review the Level 5 restrictions at the end of its fourth week with some retailers hoping they could open their doors in the middle of this month instead of at the start of December – the original date for the Level 5 restrictions to be eased. 

Earlier today, retailers called for an early reopening date for shops if Covid-19 case numbers continue to fall, an industry body has said.

Retail Excellence, the largest representative body for retail in the country, urged the Government to clarify in the next 10 days its plans to reopen non-essential retail so that retailers can prepare for Christmas.

The organisation’s managing director Duncan Graham said it is crucial that the Government meets its realistic and achievable demands if the industry is to recover in 2021.

The group, whose members employ 280,000 staff, also wants Government and landlord support on rent bills which have accrued while businesses have been in lockdown.

Graham said: “This lockdown has been catastrophic for the retail sector.

“Our priority now is to look ahead to the end of this month and the earliest possible reopening of non-essential retail so that we can meet consumer demand and save our retail businesses.”

Graham said that, as a starting point, the Government must prioritise the reopening of the shops as soon as possible.

“A delayed reopening means fewer shopping days and that means busier shopping days,” he said.

There is a real logic to making sure we reopen non-essential retail as quickly as possible so we can effectively manage consumer demand in our shops and towns.”

He said that retailers also needed help with rents and other costs if they were to survive.

“We have heard countless examples of landlords demanding full rents from retailers who have been devastated this year,” said Mr Graham.

“If the Government does not support these businesses with adequate funding and support, retailers will suffer in 2021.”

Graham also said that retailers needed to see full co-operation from local authorities and city councils to help with the reopening process.

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He also encouraged all shoppers to buy Irish during the festive season.

“We want all shoppers to shop local, shop Irish, and support Irish jobs.”

Retail Excellence said that retail has proven to be a safe environment for shoppers and retailers will be able to maintain this environment during this crucial period of the year.

There are currently 370 positive cases in hospital in Ireland, with 40 of those cases in intensive care units.

Of those 370 cases, 17 or 4.6% were in people aged 0-14 years old, 29 or 7.8% were aged between 15-34, while 119 or 32% were 35-64 with 8 ICU admissions in that age group.

The remaining 205 cases, 55.4%, were 65 and over, with 29 ICU admissions.

While the number of positive Covid-19 cases has fallen, the HSE warned this progress must not be lost.

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