An organisation which represents small and medium businesses has said garda enforcement of Level 5 restrictions may be necessary if retailers do not abide by the rules.

Yesterday, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said it was unfair of retail outlets to use essential products as a means of opening to sell non-essential products.

Mr Varadkar added that he was confident that businesses will be able to reopen after six weeks of Level 5 restrictions. But he said it was still too early to say what effect the measures were having.

The Chief Executive of ISME has said while it would be "very unfortunate" if Garda enforcement became necessary to ensure the restrictions are being complied with in shops and supermarkets, it will become necessary if people do not abide by this rule.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Neil McDonnell said while ISME does not support this retail shutdown as they believe the wrong target has been hit, he said if the Government, on NPHET advice, is going to shut down retail, then they have to do so across the board and they have to enforce that fairly.

He said he did not agree with shops that sell clothing and have started selling hand sanitiser in recent weeks, saying "we either have a rule or we don't".

Mr McDonnell said while they do not believe this rule is justified or proportionate in the first place, they consider it misguided and said it hits the young and the low paid totally disproportionately.


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He said there is no point in putting a rule like that in place unless we enforce it.

He said "if would be very unfortunate if Garda enforcement became necessary, but it will become necessary if people do not abide by this rule".

He said "click and collect will work for some retailers, but not for all, so it's not a total solution for this problem".

He said it's not just a matter of having a website that accepts financial transactions; it's also the packaging, delivery and the whole logistical chain that follows on from that.

A lecturer in Retail Management at the Technological University Dublin has said based on the Tánaiste's comments yesterday, he expects that there will be "some form of engagement" with the large retailers who are breaching the guidelines at the moment.

Damian O'Reilly told RTÉ's News at One that consumers need to understand these guidelines will take time to bed in and he expects we'll see a different scenario in the week to come as the Government has to engage with some of these companies to see where discretion is allowed and where it's not.

He said the bigger retailers must take more social responsibility in relation to other retailers and not be opportunistic coming up to Christmas.

He said home furnishings and clothing should be separated from the grocery section.

He said he personally believes that all retail should be considered essential coming up to Christmas and he said he hopes the Tánaiste and the Government consider this when they're coming up to the 4 week review and maybe they can think about opening up shops again.

He said "the number of customers in supermarkets is quite large and they've managed excellently with queuing systems and so on, over the last six months".