There will be no big-bang reopening for businesses.

That was the clear message from the Taoiseach's address to the nation this evening.

With Covid-19 daily case numbers stuck stubbornly around the 600 mark, the options for the Government narrowed in recent days, underscored by warnings from NPHET.

The consequences for firms large and small, who are chomping at the bit to get reopened, are that they will have to wait weeks more, possibly months in some cases, before they can once again pull up the shutters.

Slow, gradual and cautious will be the approach governing the resumption of normal business, as it will be for activity across the rest of society.

Overwhelmingly and predictably, therefore, the reaction to the announcement has been underwhelming.

The construction sector can resume house and childcare building operations from April 12, meaning 14,000 workers can return to sites.

But it had been lobbying hard in recent weeks for a full reopening, arguing that construction accounts for just 5% of workplace outbreaks, with places of work themselves the origin of just 7% of all Covid-19 cases.

And so the Construction Industry Federation says it is "deeply disappointed" that the reopening will be phased, leading to 20,000 people employed in the wider industry remaining out of work until May 4, putting jobs at risk it claims.

Annoyed too is the retail sector. It had, until recent days, thought it was on track for the resumption of click-and-collect services next week at very least.

Yet the Government, still set on reducing movement of people as much as possible, has decided it must wait longer.

Instead, non-essential retail will be looked at around the end of the month, with a view to reopening in May.

"Deeply shocked and disappointed" is how Retail Excellence described the decision, with rival organisation Retail Ireland describing the plan as frustrating.

Its argument is that a click-and-collect ban hasn’t featured at even the highest levels in the majority of other European countries – so why should it here?

To add insult to injury, a growing number of "essential" retailers are now defying Government restrictions, openly offering "non-essential" items for sale among their goods.

Hospitality too faces a protracted and frustrating wait.

The Taoiseach hinted that hotels, B&Bs and guesthouses might get open again in June.

This will mean they will likely miss a large chunk of the pre-summer season and if there is any slippage in that timeline, they could be looking at July before they can welcome guests again.

"Dismayed" restauranteurs felt the announcement was short on hope and confidence.

Spare a thought in particular though for publicans.

With many pubs now closed for 379 consecutive days, and no mention in this evening’s speech of when they might reopen, the future for them remains bleak.

They hadn’t expected to get the green light, or even a date for one today. But they had sought a roadmap and clear timeline for how they get to reopening.

Because although they have all shown over the past year just how agile and adaptable they can be, every Irish business craves certainty.

In order to successfully resume trading they will all need to rehire staff, restock, take bookings, put in place the necessary health and safety measures, and more.

Working capital will also be needed to keep them alive and to help them cover the costs they face in getting going again.

They also need to chart a medium-term course to recovery, based on what everyone hopes will be a successful vaccine roll-out.

Yet that certainty was exactly what was missing for many firms in this evening’s Government announcement, replaced instead by an understandable level of caution.

What it means is that the road to recovery for most businesses will be long, hard and like everything to do with the pandemic to date, very unpredictable.

And that’s assuming all firms are able to survive that long, which it is becoming increasingly clear some won’t.