Back in business: Cork traders thrilled with day one of reopening

Back in business: Cork traders thrilled with day one of reopening
Queues outside Woodies, Kinsale Rd., Cork on the first day of relaxation of Covid constraintsPic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

THERE was a sense of cautious optimism in the air in Cork today as a select group of businesses were permitted to reopen under phase one of Ireland's coronavirus recovery plan.

Hardware stores, garden centres, and opticians saw a great demand for their services from early today.

Reporting a busy first day back in business was Mark Wolfe, managing director of Atkins Gardenworld & Garden Machinery on the Carrigrohane Road.

“It’s been a busy day, but some of the new measures we’ve had to put in place will take some getting used to,” he said.

Construction restarts on major developments on Cork City’s Docks on the first day of relaxation of Covid constraintsPic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision
Construction restarts on major developments on Cork City’s Docks on the first day of relaxation of Covid constraintsPic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision

Perspex screens, floor markings, and sanitisation gel at various points around the shop are just some of the new additions to the family-owned firm’s outlet.

“We’ve also calculated what the capacity of the shop is and we have someone at the door to ensure that no more than 15 people can be in the shop at any one given time,” he said.

“For me, that’s the most difficult thing to get used to.

“It feels a little eerie, but it’s a necessary precaution we have to take.”

Eleanor Morehead after buying flowers at Hanley's garden centre.Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Eleanor Morehead after buying flowers at Hanley's garden centre.Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Mr Wolfe said the business saw a significant increase in people shopping online during lockdown.

“The online side of the business has really taken off, which wouldn’t have been a huge portion of our business before.”

Atkins will now be open from Monday to Saturday, having taken the decision to remain closed on Sundays.

Sean Cotter, Norma Thompson and Nora Cotter at Hanley's garden centre after the re-opening garden centres during the current Covid-19 pandemic Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Sean Cotter, Norma Thompson and Nora Cotter at Hanley's garden centre after the re-opening garden centres during the current Covid-19 pandemic Picture: Eddie O'Hare

“Prior to lockdown our business operated seven days a week, but we have decided to remain closed on Sundays for the time being, as Sundays are typically the day for leisurely shopping, which isn’t really appropriate right now.”

On Albert Quay, staff members at the long-established Cork tool hire company Carey Tools have been working together to come up with innovative solutions to remain safe and operable during this time.

Paddy Lucey, loading up blocks at DPL, Kinsale road Cork after the re-opening of some DIY , garden centres and builders providers during the current Covid-19 pandemic Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Paddy Lucey, loading up blocks at DPL, Kinsale road Cork after the re-opening of some DIY , garden centres and builders providers during the current Covid-19 pandemic Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Whilst the business has remained accessible for essential services only, today was the first day back welcoming walk-in customers.

“I’m excited. It’s good to be back and to get things moving in a safe way,” Debbie Carey told The Echo.

Additional entrances have been opened up to control the flow of customers and staff.

Queue at Woodies, Kinsale Road Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Queue at Woodies, Kinsale Road Picture: Eddie O'Hare

“We’re also getting some mobile screens so that if something needs to be demonstrated we can put a screen between people. One of our colleagues came up with that idea,” she explained.

“Safety is paramount, but the economy is important too so we need to marry the two. Huge kudos to the Government; I think they’ve done a remarkable job.

“They’re realistic and they’re trying to get us back in as safe a way as possible.” 

Fr. John Lyng, Prior at St. Augustine’s Church, Washington Street, Cork which is now opened at selected times throughout the day for private prayer. Picture Dan Linehan
Fr. John Lyng, Prior at St. Augustine’s Church, Washington Street, Cork which is now opened at selected times throughout the day for private prayer. Picture Dan Linehan

For other businesses in the city, today was a gentle reopening.

On Parliament St, John O’Mahony, proprietor of O’Mahony Office Supplies, said a lot of the businesses which he sells to have yet to reopen.

“A lot of businesses which we deal with are still closed.

“Solicitor’s offices which we would deal with and big accountancy offices are working on a limited basis now at this stage.”

“It’s a domino effect really,” said Mr O’Mahony. “Every business is affected by every other business.”

On the Centre Park Road, a lengthy queue snaked around the corner of Pat McDonnell Paints with Leesiders eager to get their hands on supplies to tackle home renovations. 

"The reaction to the reopening has been great. DIY definitely seems to be the lockdown past time of choice," Store Manager Aidan McDonnell told The Echo

Niall Harnett loading up the boot for Terry Keny, Grange after buying flowers at Hanley's garden centre after the re-opening garden centres during the current Covid-19 pandemic Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Niall Harnett loading up the boot for Terry Keny, Grange after buying flowers at Hanley's garden centre after the re-opening garden centres during the current Covid-19 pandemic Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Despite the new found love for paint, Mr McDonnell says customers have been very compliant of all the additional health and safety measures put in places. 

"Customers have been very respectful and are observing social distancing in the queue. 

"Hygiene practices have been implemented to the nth degree and access is limited to the store, so we are encouraging people to phone or email ahead first and collect their orders in store. 

"We also offer free delivery, which we continued while the store was closed. 

"Online orders were hugely popular in the last few weeks, so much so that our website crashed a few times,” he said.

More in this section

Sponsored Content