'We're getting that first feel of Christmas' Shops re-open across the county

There was a sense of relief, excitement and a little apprehension as businesses across Meath began opening their doors after a six-week shutdown ended today (Tuesday).

Non-essential retail shops, hair and beauty providers, gyms and leisure centres are among the businesses that are reopening their outlets to the public as Covid-19 restrictions lift with 24 days until Christmas.

Pubs serving food and restaurants will remain closed until Friday, so called 'wet pubs' will remain closed until the new year.

Retail Ireland is predicting that €1.2bn will be spent in retail outlets this December over and above a normal month.

In Navan Shopping Centre, there was a short and quickly moving queue to get into Penneys while many of the other shops and units lifted their shutters too.

The general manager of the Navan Shopping Centre Pat Mullaney said today (Tuesday) that people had arrived in big numbers for the re-opening of shops

"It has been very busy, we have had queues at Penneys, queues at Tesco and at a number of other stores but all very manageable and people in very good spirits.

"There is a good Christmas atmosphere and it's clear that people are delighted shops are open again, they are in good cheer and clearly enjoying themselves. Business is brisk without it being over-crowded.

"It's working, it's got the first feel of Christmas and everybody is complying as regards the Covid-19 restrictions, we've had no issues there.

"We've had a great turnout with people queuing outside Pennys from 6.30. The Shopping Centre opened at 6.30 to allow people in. It has all gone very well."

For some businesses, particularly pubs, the risks to reopen are just too great and many well-known establishments have taken the decision to keep the shutters down until 2021.

For The Village Inn in Slane it will be the first time in 33 years that they will not be open for the festive season. In a social media post, owner of the Slane pub and local councillor Wayne Harding expressed his disappointment. He said:

“This will not be news to anyone but our pub will not open for the Christmas period.

“It is very sad after 33 years that we will not be welcoming people returning home for Christmas.”

Meanwhile Navan publican Mick Ryan outlined his reason for remaining closed:

It is with heavy heart that we’ve made the decision that we won’t be opening Ryan’s for this Christmas period.

“While it’s difficult to believe that Covid has forced us to make this choice, we feel that it’s the correct and responsible one, made purely to help to protect the safety of our staff, customers and community.

“After 20 years of welcoming hundreds and thousands of people to celebrate the festivities with us, we are extremely sad that we can’t do the same this year.

“But even though it means a considerable loss of business, we feel that above all else, Christmas 2020 should be a safe one for all our families.”

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