Retail Excellence has said that grocery retailers with multiple departments should shut all textiles, clothing and homeware departments and prioritise their food department.

Stressing the need for common sense, David Fitzsimons, Retail Excellence's chief executive, said that other essential retailers might curtail certain categories such as a supermarket closing ice-cream counters. 

David Fitzsimons said it is now likely that we will now enter a phase where the Government, based on medical advice and economic issues pertaining to the border counties, will decree that all non-essential retail and commerce must close on a temporary basis. 

He urged Retail Excellence's members and all retailers to follow the Government's advice.

"All commerce, whether essential or non-essential warehouse work, must be conducted within the clear distancing and other health and safety protocols," he added.

But he said that all online activity should continue to operate as normal and pleaded with the public to be patient when shopping online.

"There has been a significant increase in online shopping demand and thus fulfilment and delivery is taking longer than normal," he added.

Meanwhile, Dixons Carphone Ireland said today it has decided to to close its 16 Currys PC World and 82 Carphone Warehouse stores across Ireland until further notice to help play its part in safeguarding public health.

"At Currys PC World and Carphone Warehouse, the health and safety of our 1,100 colleagues and our customers is our top priority," the company said.

Seamus McCormack, interim managing director at Dixons Carphone Ireland, said that consumers can still buy the company's technology, consumer electronics and home appliances on its online stores.