The Stormont Executive have announced that all non-essential goods retailers in NI can re-open from this Friday 12 June. The move has been welcomed by Newry Chamber of Commerce who earlier today had requested for retail openings to be fast tracked.

Economy Minister Diane Dodds today confirmed the major step forward. Mrs Dodds said "I am very pleased to be able to confirm that all non-essential goods retailers in Northern Ireland can re-open from Friday 12 June, subject to them adhering to the necessary safety measures and no increase in the spread of the virus. This was considered at this morning’s Executive meeting and it was agreed that as long as retailers can adhere to the necessary safety measures, and there is no increase in the spread of the virus by Thursday, then these shops can re-open.

"The pandemic has had a devastating impact on the local economy. The recovery has already begun and it is time now for the pace to accelerate. The re-opening of all goods retail outlets will be a huge part of this.

Hill Street, Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/
Hill Street, Newry. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/

"The safety of staff and customers is of course paramount. All retailers must be able to implement measures that minimise the risk to their staff and to the people who visit their stores. We will be co-existing with this virus for some time to come so it is vital that we continue to adhere to guidance to work and live safely. Debenhams is an excellent example of how retailers can make this work and adapt to this new normal."

The Minister added: "The re-opening of our local shopping sector is a significant step forward in the Executive’s pathway to recovery. I and my Executive colleagues remain committed to moving forward in the recovery while at all times keeping the health, wellbeing and safety of people at the centre and being transparent in our approach.

“This is a major step forward today but there is more work to do and I will continue to work to progress the recovery."

 Chamber Welcomes Decision

Commenting on the decision to open High Street shops from Friday, Colm Shannon, Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber of Commerce said “This is welcome news that all non-essential retailers on the High Street can open from Friday. Newry Chamber has been working hard to give our retailers a chance to compete fairly and this is great news. Our retailers are at the heart of our city and have invested in measures to ensure the safety of their staff and customers. We are ready to open Newry again.

“At this time, it is important to remember and thank the hard work of our Health Service. Their efforts and dedication have put us in the position where retailers can go back to work and begin to provide a service to the people of Newry and the surrounding area.

 “As a border economy, it is important that we can compete fairly with other businesses on the island of Ireland and we look forward to further announcements on shopping centres and hospitality.”

BID Continue to Lobby

A spokesperson for Newry BID added "We welcome Minister Dodds announcement that small shops / retail can open from Friday. The BID will continue to lobby for further easing of restrictions in a safe and controlled manner."

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