Cork businesses hail lifting of coronavirus restrictions

Cork's Oliver Plunkett Street.

Cork businesses are raring to go with "real pep in their step" ahead of the latest easing of restrictions for retail on Monday.

Chief executive of the Cork Business Association, Lawrence Owens, said Cork retailers now had an unexpected bonus to help get their businesses back up and running, because of easing of movement for all people within their own counties.

"We're delighted with it, it's very positive that so many businesses can now open, and that we can take advantage of our county bounds. 

"Businesses have worked so hard in recent weeks to take measures to protect their staff and customers, paying for safety features such as perspex, that they are hoping the 'shop local' message will be observed."

All shops can reopen from Monday, with shopping centres following on June 15.

Retail Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the retail sector, welcomed the reopening of all small and large retailers from Monday, after getting the green light from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET). 

The move will bring Ireland more into line with the rest of Europe, where in the vast majority of cases the retail sector is fully reopened, Retail Ireland said.

Its Director, Arnold Dillon, said: “Retailers have clearly demonstrated their commitment to transforming how they operate to protect the health of customers and staff. The reopening of larger retailers earlier than planned is a welcome acknowledgement of this, along with the urgent need to protect the thousands of vulnerable retail businesses and jobs right across the country.”

Chambers Ireland said the escalation and compression to four stages rather than five for reopening businesses signalled that "we are through the worst of the COVID-19 outbreak, and returning with caution to normality".

Its Chief Executive, Ian Talbot, said: “Getting the balance right between supporting the economy and livelihoods, while also protecting public health, is no easy task. The responsibility of government in making these decisions is an unenviable one.

The business community has shown leadership throughout the crisis, and now that the worst of the Coronavirus outbreak has been quelled, news that an easing of restrictions can now occur will be widely welcomed by our members.

He cautioned that reopening the economy "will not be as straightforward as shutting it down". 

"Businesses have suffered immense economic damage over the past two to three months. They will require as much financial support from the State in these phases as they did during the lockdown. 

"If this support does not materialise, we risk permanently losing jobs, and job creators, over the coming months."