The continued ban on click-and-collect services for retail is “mystifying”, a representative group has said, as public health restrictions begin to ease.
From Monday, the 5km travel limit was lifted to accommodate countywide travel or 20km travel from home for those living near borders, while households can meet one other household outdoors, but not in gardens.
Construction has also partially reopened, and schools returned to in-class tuition.
However, Neil McDonnell, chief executive of business group Isme, said there was “real frustration” over the continued restrictions for non-essential retail.
“The fact that click-and-collect was not brought in in that scenario is mystifying. We’re very disappointed from that perspective,” he said.
Mr McDonnell acknowledged setting up click-and-collect services was difficult because it’s an “entirely new supply chain”, but added it would allow specific retailers to resume trading while keeping stores closed to customers.
“It’s far from an ideal choice… But it’s at least something and if it was available now, certain members – fashion retail, footwear and jewellery – could be back to some level of trading,” he added.
Pam O’Regan, director of Saville menswear in Cork, said the “biggest bone of contention” is the “lack of common sense” behind the continued ban.
“We can’t understand it at all. You can click and collect food but not clothing? It’s a bit nuts. We were doing quite nicely in the last lockdown but this time they banished it completely,” she said.
“We did it [shopping] over Zoom calls or word of mouth, we had it all wrapped and ready, the payment was made over the phone, and the person would come to the door so it would be passed out and that was it. No problem, off they go.”
She also proposed appointment-only reopening for non-essential retail.
Adrian Cummins, chief executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland, said countywide travel would allow for greater freedoms, which could result in increased customer numbers for restaurants and cafes at beauty spots or walkways.
However, this is "not a silver bullet", he said, while calling for a roadmap for when outdoor and indoor dining would be permitted to resume.
Michael O’Donovan, Cork City and County chairman of the Vintners’ Federation, said local authorities should examine how best to maximise public spaces to assist restaurants and bars to get back on their feet.
Publican Ernest Cantillon, who owns Electric and Sober Lane in Cork city, said his businesses are “food-centric” which has kept him going in recent months.
“There’s a lovely park near Electric. At the moment, we’re just selling takeaway food, but we’re selling it out into the park. The takeaway drinks have started around Cork in the last couple of weeks,” he said.
“I think we’ll wait a week or two just to see how it’s going. The main challenge for us is just to make sure it doesn’t get too busy. That happened at Christmas where there were just too many people congregating outside the pubs.”