Trading Restrictions Whack Border Retailers

15 Oct 2020 | 11.30 am

Trading Restrictions Whack Border Retailers

Level 4 lockdown from midnight October 15

15 Oct 2020 | 11.30 am

Retail Excellence has decried the imposition of Level 4 restrictions on the border counties of Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan as making “no sense to have retailers trading ‘normally’ in Northern Ireland whilst some of those trading south of the border will have to close”.

Managing director Duncan Graham said: “This move will only result in more shoppers going online to do their Christmas shopping. We have seen a big spike in online shopping this year and 70% of the money that’s taken through purchases on line goes out of the country.

“Restrictions at this time of the year are devastating for the industry in these border counties and could result in up to 10,000 jobs being put at risk. Up to 20% of the workforce is employed in retail in these counties. 

“It is inevitable that this move will result in some businesses having to shut for good despite the introduction of the CRSS in this week’s budget.

“We urge shoppers in Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan who may be considering shopping online to shop with their local, Irish retailer and to avail of other services such as click and collect which should not be affected by these restrictions.”

From midnight tonight the three counties will stay at Level 4 until Tuesday November 10 when the situation will be reviewed. The restrictions in force will include:

• No social or family gatherings other than weddings (with up to six guests) and funerals (with up to 25 mourners) should take place.
• No visitors are permitted into private homes and gardens, except for essential purposes•
• Visits to long-term residential care facilities are suspended except for critical and compassionate circumstances
• People should stay in their county except for essential work, education and other essential purposes
• Only essential workers should travel to work
• Only essential retail and businesses that are primarily outdoors should open — all other retail and personal services should be closed.

There’s a list of essential services here, and of essential retail outlets here. 

Construction, manufacturing, schools, regulated childcare and childminding will remain open with existing protective measures, while further, higher and adult education will move primarily online.

Public transport will operate at 25% capacity. Bars, cafes, and restaurants will open only for takeaway or delivery and only outdoor seating for a maximum of 15 patrons. Wet pubs may open for take-away or delivery and outdoor service for a maximum of 15 patrons. No indoor service is permitted.

Supports will be available for business under the new Covid Restrictions Subsidy Scheme (CRSS) announced in this week’s Budget.

Great Barrington Declaration

The latest lockdown comes as leading epidemiologists are rallying public support for and alternative approach to the pandemic billed as ‘Focused Protection’. The Great Barrington Declaration, so-called because it was issued in the Massachusetts town on October 4, reads as follows:

As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection.

Coming from both the left and right, and around the world, we have devoted our careers to protecting people. Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health.

The results (to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health – leading to greater excess mortality in years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden. Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice.

Keeping these measures in place until a vaccine is available will cause irreparable damage, with the underprivileged disproportionately harmed.

Fortunately, our understanding of the virus is growing. We know that vulnerability to death from COVID-19 is more than a thousand-fold higher in the old and infirm than the young. Indeed, for children, COVID-19 is less dangerous than many other harms, including influenza.

As immunity builds in the population, the risk of infection to all – including the vulnerable – falls. We know that all populations will eventually reach herd immunity – i.e.  the point at which the rate of new infections is stable – and that this can be assisted by (but is not dependent upon) a vaccine. Our goal should therefore be to minimize mortality and social harm until we reach herd immunity.

The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection.

Adopting measures to protect the vulnerable should be the central aim of public health responses to COVID-19. By way of example, nursing homes should use staff with acquired immunity and perform frequent PCR testing of other staff and all visitors. Staff rotation should be minimized. Retired people living at home should have groceries and other essentials delivered to their home.

When possible, they should meet family members outside rather than inside. A comprehensive and detailed list of measures, including approaches to multi-generational households, can be implemented, and is well within the scope and capability of public health professionals.

Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal. Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick should be practiced by everyone to reduce the herd immunity threshold. Schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching.

Extracurricular activities, such as sports, should be resumed. Young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home. Restaurants and other businesses should open. Arts, music, sport and other cultural activities should resume. People who are more at risk may participate if they wish, while society as a whole enjoys the protection conferred upon the vulnerable by those who have built up herd immunity.

The declaration was authored and signed by Dr. Martin Kulldorff, professor of medicine at Harvard University; Dr. Sunetra Gupta, professor at Oxford University; and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, professor at Stanford University Medical School.

They are urging members of the public to endorse the declaration here.

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