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Larger Retailers to open from 8 June

Reacting to the Executive’s announcement yesterday that some large retailers will be allowed to open from 8 June provided the R-number remains below one, Londonderry Chamber Chief Executive Paul Clancy said:

 “We welcome this afternoon’s announcement that some larger retailers – like car showrooms, electrical shops, furniture stores, and animal grooming businesses –  will be allowed to reopen from 8 June, provided the R number remains at a safe level.

 “Reopening and rebuilding our economy safely will require careful, calculated steps like these and it is welcome that businesses can now begin to see some light at the end of the tunnel. This announcement also gives these business owners time to prepare for reopening and adapt their stores, If necessary, to accommodate social distancing. I would encourage the Executive to provide more clarity over the future of other, smaller retailers in the coming days and communicate clearly to these businesses when and how they can begin to trade again.

 “However, the news that hotels can now take advance bookings, but without a date of when they can reopen to guests, is contradictory. This will frustrate many hoteliers and lead to confusion within the wider hospitality sector. More clarity is needed over whether this will happen as soon as the end of July – as is planned in the Republic of Ireland – or whether it will be at a later date.”

After the third statutory review of the Coronavirus regulations, First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill revealed at the daily Executive press conference that, depending on the transmission rate, the following relaxations would be allowed:

  • People will be permitted to leave home to attend to the needs or welfare of their pet or non-farm animals.
  • Outdoor marriages and civil partnership ceremonies will be allowed, with number of people attending limited to 10.
  • Outdoor sports courts will be permitted to reopen.
  • The conduct of business by outdoor non-food retailers will be permitted, including new and used car retailers; retailers of light motor vehicles, lorries/trailers; retailers of caravans or motorhomes, and retailers of agricultural or other large machinery.
  • The conduct of business by non-food retail outlets with lower frequency customer visits and / or with a greater propensity for larger store areas, will be permitted such as stores selling electrical goods, mobile phones, computer, furniture and furnishings. But only where those outlets have direct street access or direct access within a retail park and where they can accommodate social distancing.

Ministers also agreed to amend the regulations to allow hotels to take advance bookings in preparation for when they can accept guests. While the Executive is not yet in a position to provide an indicative date for reopening, Ministers will give the matter further consideration and provide an update next week.