Dublin was “eerily quiet” on St Stephen’s Day as Covid-19 restrictions halted the sales rush typically seen on the day after Christmas.
As Ireland enters its third lockdown, non-essential retailers have been permitted to remain open on the condition they postpone or move online annual winter sales.
The Irish Times reports that as the doors of Arnotts opened shortly before 9am this morning in the capital, staff outnumbered customers by a “significant margin”.
About a half hour later, a large television screen counted just over 100 shoppers spread out across four floors.
Grafton Street was reportedly “even quieter”, with Brown Thomas among only a handful of retailers whose doors opened in the early morning.
Meanwhile, businesses across Northern Ireland were shuttered once more as new lockdown measures came into effect.
The new restrictions include a form of curfew operating from 8pm, with shops closed from that time and all indoor and outdoor gatherings prohibited until 6am.
In Belfast, streets were deserted, in stark contrast to the typical rush for St Stephen’s or Boxing Day sales.
Non-essential retail and close contact services such as hairdressers have closed and will remain so for the next six weeks. Hospitality outlets are limited to takeaway services.
Covid-19 infection rates remain high across the island, with a virulent strain first discovered in southern England and London recently detected in both the Republic and the North.
A total of 26 deaths and 2,294 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed on the island of Ireland on Saturday.
In the Republic, the National Public Health Emergency Team confirmed 1,296 new cases of the virus, along with six further deaths.
In Northern Ireland, an additional 998 new cases were confirmed over the past two days, along with 20 deaths related to Covid-19 in the same period.