Dozens of businesses across Limerick are preparing to open their doors on Monday after the government agreed to ease some public health restrictions from Monday.
At a media conference at Government Buildings this Friday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar confirmed it is "safe" to proceed with phase 1 of the roadmap to reopen the country.
"From Monday, we will be able to meet small groups of up to four people outside, while keeping at least two metres apart. Some people involved mainly in outdoor work will be able to start working again, for example construction workers, gardeners, and people tending to allotments," he said.
"Some more stores will reopen and you will be able to shop again in garden centres, hardware stores, and farmers' markets, or get your eyes tested or your car, motorbike or bicycle fixed. As part of your daily exercise you will be able to play a game of tennis, or a round of golf, exercise and fitness classes outdoors in small groups of up to four people, once you don’t travel beyond 5km to do so," he added.
Some public amenities such as public beaches and mountain walks will also reopen from Monday - subject to social distancing being observed and people not travelling more than 5km from their home.
One family-owned business which is planning to reopen on Monday is Fine's opticians at Catherine Street in Limerick city centre.
"Our experience of lockdown is that it came very quick and suddenly so it's been a bit of new experience for us. we have never been closed for seven weeks before - the maximum we have ever closed for, in 40 years, has been a week at Christmas so it's been a completely new experience for us," said Valerie Fine.
"We spent the last few weeks, since we heard we were going to be reopening just trying to get everything organised to reopen," she added.
So how will the business manage on Monday?
We have got a got a lot of guidelines, we have obviously been on gov.ie and from our own association. We have had discussions and a pre back-to-work talk with our staff and we have done everything that we need to have done and we were in all week getting everything ready and sterilised and we have a system in place for social distancing," Valerie told the Limerick Leader.
Most hardware stores and garden centres across Limerick are also set to reopen on Monday as are some car dealerships. However, it emerged this Friday that homeware stores will not be allowed to reopen as had been expected.
Pat Frankin, who owns a shoe repair and cutting businesses in the city centre says he is also preparing to re-open on Monday.
"We closed on March 22 just prior to lockdown - it's been different but i'll be glad to get back on the 18th to resume business for our customers and take it from there really. It's a whole new ball game really and it looks like we will be livign with Covid-19," he said.
"I expect and initial glut (of business) because I have already got requests through Facebook and our website from people once they realised we would be reopening so I could be busy for a week or two - maybe a bit longer," said Pat who has been in business for nearly 30 years.
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