Written answers

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Department of Trade, Enterprise and Employment

Covid-19 Pandemic Supports

Photo of Neale RichmondNeale Richmond (Dublin Rathdown, Fine Gael)
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30. To ask the Minister for Trade, Enterprise and Employment if he has engaged with retailers offering designated shopping hours for vulnerable groups to encourage them to take steps to enforce designated hours to ensure vulnerable persons have a safe and comfortable shopping experience; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30229/20]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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Retail, as the largest private sector employer, has shown determination and adaptability in the face of incredible challenges. It has changed its business models, refitted premises, retrained staff and come up with new and innovate ways including; designated shopping hours to continue to trade safely, to protect its employees and customers.

The Retail Forum, an initiative of my Department which is chaired by my colleague Minister of State English, continues to focus on how best to adhere to COVID-19 public health guidelines. My Department and members of the Forum are in continuous engagement on the issues of COVID-19 compliance, including on mandatory mask wearing in retail settings, which the members were very helpful in introducing over August.

Since the introduction of Level 3 restrictions in Dublin and now applicable country wide, my Department wrote to retail representative bodies, including those working with shopping centres, asking that they remind all members in the retail sector, of the need for strict adherence to public health guidelines on social distancing, queuing, entry and exit and restricting congregations.

The National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) which is an agency of my Department, developed guidelines for both the retail sector ‘COVID-19 Retail Protection and Improvement Guide’ and shopping centres ‘COVID-19 Shopping Centre Recovery and Protection Guide’ and is continuously refreshing these guidelines as ‘living documents’. It is also stepping up its promotion of those guidelines with the sector.

My Department will also be leading on a ‘Shop Safely’ public awareness campaign and good shopping etiquette, adhering to social distancing and queuing protocols and not congregating in shopping centres and other retail areas.

Minister of State English will continue to engage with the Retail Forum throughout this challenging time to advise retailers of the importance of adherence to the public health guidelines for the ongoing safety of employees and customers.


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