Many retailers will be able to open sooner than previously planned, as part of changes to the Government's Covid-19 roadmap for reopening the economy.

Meanwhile businesses in the tourism hospitality sector, including hotels and bars that serve food, should be allowed to resume trading by the end of the month.

The Cabinet today agreed to move to Phase 2 of the roadmap from Monday, while also opting to ease far more restrictions than had previously been contained in that part of the plan.

All shops will be able to reopen from Monday, while shopping centres can also open on 15 June.

However no congregating at food courts or other areas will be allowed.

There will also be restrictions on opening hours to ensure those traveling to shop will not interfere with essential workers using public transport.

Tourism and hospitality sectors will return on 29 June, with bars being allowed to open if they serve food and have table service only.

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys said small businesses that were able to reopen should take two measures now.

She said they should apply immediately for the Government restart cash grant from €2,000 to €10,000, which is done via the local authority websites.

Meanwhile they should get on the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme, which will pay for up to 85% for staff salaries and can free cash up for other expenses.

Ms Humphreys also urged people to "stay local and shop local" and support those retailers who have suffered through the last few months.
 

The business community has welcomed the acceleration of the roadmap to recovery.

Employers group, Ibec said the length of the lockdown in Ireland will determine the scale of the fall in economic activity.

CEO Danny McCoy acknowledged that the reopening of retail on Monday as part of Phase 2 is in the context that Covid hasn't gone away. He appealed to people to behave responsibly when shops reopen; "It won't be shopping as normal".

Retail Ireland said the need for social distancing will result in a very different shopping experience, but customers have already adapted and are supportive of the new rules.

Director Arnold Dillon said many shopping centres remained open during the crisis to allow essential retail to trade, even if many of the shops were closed.

"They have put in place comprehensive plans to ensure the safety of staff and customers, including new queuing systems, tightly controlling the numbers entering the centres and additional hygiene measures. The reopening will be done in a way that safeguards public health, while also protecting jobs and businesses."

The Director of the Small Firms Association said the extension of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme will help businesses reopen and contribute to the reboot of the economy.

Sven Spollen-Behrens said, "This decision also recognised the needs of those in the hair and beauty, events and sports and leisure sectors who are not scheduled to reopen until much later in the summer".

The earlier reopening of hotels has been welcomed by the Irish Hotels Federation.

"Hotels have already begun to adapt their services and facilities in anticipation of reopening under COVID-19 guidelines as they prepare to reopen and welcome guests from the end of June," said IHF President, Elaine Fitzgerald Kane.

Moving the reopening of pubs to July means publicans can avail of an extra three weeks trading, which has been welcomed by publican representatives.

The Vintners Federation of Ireland and the Licensed Vintners Association said this will come as a "major relief" to the pub sector across the country.