A TENTATIVE sense of normality has returned to Ireland's streets as shops across the country have reopened for business.
Retail stores were given the go-ahead to reopen today, Monday 8 June, after Ireland experienced a significant drop in the numbers of daily new cases of Covid-19, resulting in the acceleration of the roadmap to reopen Ireland.
On Friday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said:
"Today, I can confirm that it is safe to move to Phase 2 of the plan to reopen our country from Monday. This has been made possible by the considerable sacrifices you have made to restrict the spread of the virus and protect each other.
"Thanks to your perseverance in pushing back COVID-19 I am announcing an acceleration of the Roadmap. Over the last few months fear has exerted a kind of gravity pulling us down, but now we find there is hope lifting us up again."
— Yay Cork (@yaycork) June 8, 2020
Over the weekend, cities began to prepare to welcome shoppers back into their midst, with Dublin City Council erecting a number of public toilets and shops staggering opening times and introducing hand sanitiser stations.
Some larger retail stores such as Penneys and Brown Thomas have decided to wait until 12 June to reopen their stores in order to give themselves more time for preparations, including finding ways to ensure social distancing within the stores.
Oh hey there Phase 2. We've been waiting for you!
Best of luck to our supporters and all local businesses re-opening their doors this morning. Let's all play our part and #shoplocal. pic.twitter.com/KfwtGS4kit
— Druid Theatre (@DruidTheatre) June 8, 2020
Customers have been warned they face a very different shopping experience than before, with Minister Heather Humphreys stating on Friday that 'browsing' would be no more, and customers should enter the shop to buy the items they need and leave quickly.
Today marks the beginning of phase 2, & will see many of our much loved local businesses re-opening. Please show your support by shopping local. These businesses, whether food shops, boutiques, furniture shops & more are the vital to our local & larger economy. #supportlocal pic.twitter.com/l7Lex2LMyt
— Good Food Ireland® (@GoodFoodIreland) June 8, 2020
Citizens have been urged to shop local and stay local, and to walk or cycle to the shops if possible, amid fears public transport could become overcrowded.
Lord Mayor of Dublin, Tom Brabazon, said today marks the start of "the journey to get back to some level of normality", but urged people to be careful and "not to all rush in together".