Non-essential Irish stores warned over trying to dodge lockdown rules
Non-essential retailers in The Republic of Ireland have been warned against using health regulation loopholes to stay open. The government said it could enforce financial penalties to maintain regulations.
Government deputy head and Enterprise, Trade and Employment minister Leo Varadkar said some mixed retail stores were not abiding by the new legislation that allows only those selling essential items to remain open as part of six-week nationwide Level 5 restrictions.
Under government guidelines, retailers selling essential and non-essential items have been told to separate the areas. But some businesses, including sportswear and footwear stores, have remained open because they sell PPE and face masks. Varadkar said if that's the case, the non-essential items must be closed off to the public.
On non-essential stores staying open to sell PPE, he said they were asking retailers to abide by the regulations and "the spirit of the regulations”.
He emphasised that stores should only sell items that are essential, adding that workwear is essential, but other regular fashion isn’t.
Although Varadkar has said he was confident that businesses will be able to reopen after six weeks of restrictions, but noted that it was still too early to say what effect the measures were having.
The issues reflect consumer and business disagreement over what is and isn't essential. Such confusion has also seen retailers such as supermarkets and pharmacies across the sea in Wales having to block access to non-essential items and a petition garnering tens of thousands of signatures in protest at the move.
Some analysts have said that while banning the sale of non-essentials in supermarkets helps create a level playing field for those stores forced to close, it could also mean more consumers got to web-only retailers such as Amazon, so other stores will still lose out.
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