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Re-opening proves light at the end of tunnel

The re-opening of many smaller retailers tomorrow proves there is “light at the end of the tunnel” for businesses severely impacted by the coronavirus.

Londonderry Chamber Chief Executive Paul Clancy has said the Executive’s decision to reopen all non-food retailers from Friday is a very welcome development which will come as a huge relief for many small businesses in the North West.

He has urged the public and returning customers to be patient with shops and retailers as they get to grips with a totally changed shopping experience and urged them to continue to respect social distancing guidelines.

He has also again urged the Executive to provide greater clarity for hospitality businesses and set a date for when bars and restaurants can reopen.

Londonderry Chamber Chief Executive Paul Clancy said:

“I would like to wish all re-opening businesses the very best of luck as we begin to reboot our regional economy. This has been a very stressful and uncertain time for companies across the North West and it is excellent that they can now look to the future and get back down to business.

“Shops in the city have been responsible and working hard throughout the lockdown to put in place new measures and changes which will protect their customers and staff. Many retailers have invested a great deal of time and money to ensure that everyone feels safe and secure while trading and it is important that customers continue to abide by social distancing guidelines. Everyone has their part to play to make sure that we avoid a potentially catastrophic second wave of the virus, which would decimate already struggling businesses and lead to more lives lost.

“The face of retail and how shops do business has totally changed over the past three months and shoppers will find a new shopping experience. It is important that they understand that queues will be longer and stores will look and feel very different. However, the number one priority of retailers is the welfare and safety of their customers and staff and have taken these measures to protect everyone. By shopping local and staying local, we can support small businesses who have been impacted by the lockdown.”

Mr Clancy added:

“While there is now clear light at the end of the tunnel for our retail sector, more clarity is urgently needed on when we can reopen our hospitality and tourism businesses. The North West has developed a world-class tourism offer over the past few years and every week that goes by with it still locked down is another massive blow to our brilliant local pubs, restaurants, and hotels.   

“The Executive needs to set clear dates to allow hospitality businesses to prepare to reopen and let them know on what terms they can reopen. Proposals like reducing social distancing to 1 metre and allowing bars to extend out onto the street and pavements are worth exploring and could make a serious difference for businesses which have been very harshly hit.”