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Gardai out in force in new normal as we're back in business at last

Retail outlets set to reopen with strict social distancing

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Gardai outside Penneys, which is set to reopen on Friday

Gardai outside Penneys, which is set to reopen on Friday

Gardai outside Penneys, which is set to reopen on Friday

Gardai will be on duty to help ensure social distancing in queues as large retail outlets get set to reopen across the country from today.

As the second phase of lockdown recovery gets under way, large numbers are anticipated as stores with street access are due to open their doors this morning.

The Ikea store in Ballymun will open at 10.30am for elderly and vulnerable shoppers, and at 11.30am for the general public. Gardai will patrol the area to ensure there are no issues with queues or traffic. The Ikea car park is due to open at 8am.

People waited in queues for hours when Ikea reopened in the UK last week and the Swedish retailer is expecting similar scenes when it reopens in Dublin today.

Compliance

A spokesman for the store said it would have a number of safety measures in place for the safety of customers and staff, including a staggered entry system and social-distance wardens. Its cafe and play areas will not be open.

It comes as the latest figures revealed one more person with Covid-19 has died, meaning 1,679 people in Ireland have now lost their lives to the virus.

There were also 25 new cases confirmed, bringing the total to 25,201.

In Dublin city centre, Brown Thomas on Grafton Street and Arnotts on Henry Street are gearing-up to reopen on Wednesday.

Brown Thomas regional stores in Cork, Limerick and Galway will fully reopen on Thursday. Opening times will be 10.30am to 6pm for the foreseeable future.

"We have been planning the safe reopening of our stores for weeks and all necessary safety measures will be implemented prior to opening in compliance with Government and HSE guidelines," said Brown Thomas Arnotts managing director Donald McDonald.

"We are looking forward to welcoming our customers back to our beautiful stores where they will be able to shop in a safe and inspiring way.

"Customers will experience some differences in how things are done as we ensure the highest safety and hygiene standards are adhered to."

Customers will be able to pre-book visits into the stores via the Brown Thomas and Arnotts website.

Walk-ins will be facilitated via a queuing system if necessary. The stores announced "virtual queuing" will be in place, whereby customers join a queue virtually and receive a text message when they are at the top of the virtual queue. They can then enter the store.

Stores will operate at a reduced capacity. The number of customers will be electronically counted on entry and exit and displayed on screens for customers to see.

Larger consultation areas in places that sell beauty products have been created to allow for social distancing, and there will be a "no touch" policy in place on beauty products, with testers available to view only.

There will be no staff contact with customers at make-up counters and no self-service tester brushes.

Both stores will have digital screens to allow customers to "virtually" assess how make-up appears on their skin.

There will also be a free same-day home delivery service for customers who buy some larger items, to avoid them taking them on to public transport and potentially into contact with the wider public.

Steamed

A new "click and collect" area in the Brown Thomas Dublin car park has been set up so customers can remain in their car to collect their purchases.

Customers will still be able to use fitting rooms as all clothing will be steamed and sanitised after a customer tries it on.

Penneys made a decision not to reopen until Friday, even though stores with street entrances are in general allowed to open from today as long as safety protocols are adhered to.

Bus and rail services are also due to return to normal timetables today, but at a much reduced capacity to ensure social distancing can occur.