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Wednesday 6 December 2023 Dublin: 8°C
Gráinne Ní Aodha
Dundrum Town Centre

Nowhere to sit and wearing face coverings is 'up to the customer': Shopping centres open back up

The number of people allowed in Dundrum Town Centre will be limited to 6,500 or 7,000 people.

“IT’S GOOD TO see people back,” as one shopper at Dundrum Town Centre said this morning.

Months after non-essential retailers had closed their doors, retailers located in shopping centres are now allowed to open back up today, much to the relief of staff.

This follows the Irish government’s announcement that they would open the country up quicker than originally planned; shopping centres were meant to open back up on 10 August, but this was moved forward to allow shopping centres to reopen this week. 

The National Standards Authority of Ireland published a Shopping Centre Recovery and Protection Guide which detailed some of the measures shopping centres must take to allow them to reopen, including ensuring “people do not congregate at benches, fountains or food courts”.  

Retailers with street access were allowed to reopen last week, which saw queues outside Ikea, Penneys and Zara around Dublin.

In Dundrum Town Centre this morning, people began queuing at Penneys from 5.45am, and were let inside by 8.30am. Queues also formed outside House of Fraser, Lifestyle Sports, and Zara.

By the time the stores were due to open, at 10.30am, there were very few queues left as stores let people trickle inside slowly.

Don Nugent, Centre Director at  Dundrum Town Centre told that if things get busy at the weekend, and they reach a capacity over what is allowed, they will ask people to queue outside to get into the shopping centre.

Normal capacity for Dundrum Town Centre is 10-12,000 people, but Nugent said that they’ve reduced this way down to 6,500-7,000 people.

They’ve also taken away any object that people tend to gather around, but Nugent says that at the moment, people tend to “get what they want and go”.

Among those who were shopping around Dundrum this morning were young teenagers and families, people returning items and those looking to browse or take advantage of the sales in almost all retailers.

As is the case at Arnotts and Brown Thomas, people are not allowed to use make-up and beauty testers.

Retail staff stood at the doors of all outlets and reminded people to sanitise their hands as they walked in, and to walk in a single file into the store. Retailers are keeping count of how many are in the store at any one time

Several shops were still closed.

On face coverings, Nugent says they had looked very closely at the issue.

“We’ve looked closely at this, but again we are working entirely to the government guidelines, and it’s not mandatory, it’s a personal choice.

If people choose to, we respect that and if they choose not to we respect that too. So if that changes, obviously that will change. 
We have signage encouraging people to wear it, but we’re not asking people proactively to wear it. 

Today, the government launched a campaign to encourage people to wear face masks on public transport and in shops where social distancing isn’t possible.

Retailers in shopping centres are considered higher risk, as they are in an enclosed area where the air ventilation is limited.  

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