Written answers

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation

Covid-19 Pandemic

Photo of Christopher O'SullivanChristopher O'Sullivan (Cork South West, Fianna Fail)
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441. To ask the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if she will revisit the distinction between homewares and hardware stores with regard to reopening under the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business and encourage them to implement safety procedures and initiate reopening as soon as possible; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7811/20]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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As Chair of the Retail Consultation Forum, I am aware that this is a challenging time for retailers across Ireland - large and small. It is a particularly difficult time for retailers who have had to close their doors in the interest of public health and adherence to the public health guidelines.

The Government’s Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business published on Friday 1st May sets out five stages for modifying the restrictions put in place to contain the Coronavirus, at three week intervals. The Roadmap sets out how we can keep the level of transmission of COVID-19 as low as possible while balancing continuing restrictions in proportion with the positive social and economic benefits which will be brought about by businesses reopening. It is important to note that all decisions taken by Government on the timing of any lifting of restrictions as envisaged in the Roadmap will be guided by the public health advice at the time.

On 15 May, 2020 the Government announced that we would move to Phase 1 of the Roadmap for Reopening Society and Business from Monday May 18, 2020. This is in line with advice received from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET). The categories of workers, list of essential retail outlets and other facilities that can therefore reopen under Phase 1 are available on the Government’s website

With regard to homeware outlets, I wish to draw your attention to the list of retailers that can open published on 15th May, as hardware stores, builders merchants and those providing essential supplies and tools for gardening, farming and agriculture; garden centres and farmers markets; Opticians/Optometrists/Outlets providing hearing test services, selling hearing aids and appliances; retailers involved in the sale, supply and repair of motor vehicles, motorcycles and bicycles and related facilities (e.g. tyre sales and repairs); office products and services; electrical, IT and phone sales, repair and maintenance services for home. This does not include homeware stores.

Only stores providing homeware incidental to primary retail functions set out in the original Essential Services list are to reopen in Phase 1. It is not intended that stores which might also classify themselves as homeware, but primarily sell items such as furniture, bedding, curtains, kitchenware, crockery or other such items etc. should open.

The advice for individuals is still to stay at home as much as possible. During Phase 1, it is intended that customers should restrict visits to such stores for essential supplies. All retailers are encouraged to continue to provide on-line services where that is possible and appropriate to minimise footfall. All of these retail outlets must implement physical distancing measures and measures set out in the National Return to Work Safely Protocol.

Government will monitor progress on Phase 1 over the first two weeks and will assess progress next week. As set out in the Roadmap, Phase 2 is a reopening based on size rather than sector.

The National Return to Work Safely Protocol is a useful guide for businesses in making their assessments and adapting their workplace procedures and practices to comply fully with the COVID-19 related public health protection measures. It sets out in very clear terms for employers and workers the steps that they must take firstly before a workplace reopens, and then while it continues to operate. The Protocol is available at

The Health and Safety Authority, which is an agency of my Department, is the lead agency in overseeing compliance with the Protocol in the workplace. If employers or employees need further guidance on the Protocol, the HSA Helpline can be contacted at 1890 289 389 or wcu@hsa.ie.

It is imperative that all businesses must adhere to physical distancing requirements and the latest public health guidance at all times.

A wide range of financial supports and guidance has been made available by my Department and wider Government to help businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Full details of all supports and guidance is available at

It is important to check for the latest information, public health advice and guidelines from Government in relation to Covid-19.


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