By Simone Caron
Restrictions were being lifted in phase 2, allowing businesses to open in phases, however, it is far from business as usual as there are safety measures that now need to be put into place. While the HSE still recommends keeping a 2 meter distance from others however, sitting in the conference room for a meeting can make this difficult most times and there still seems to be confusion around exactly what is expected of businesses in different sectors that need to be implemented.
Retail is among one of the most affected industries. “The Works” conducted research including some of the biggest retailers and reported that the final week before non-essential stores closed, saw like-for-like sales rise by 81% on last year earlier as shoppers bought education and mindfulness to keep the boredom of isolation at bay.
As expected, online sales remained high during the lockdown and a study done by money.co.uk found that over one third (37%) of Brits are shopping more often online, than before the COVID-19 crisis and a rise in sales of non-essential items. Whilst many employees experienced reduced pay, many business owners are looking for a way to cut costs including reducing rent and cutting their marketing budgets in half.
Ireland’s Cycle to Work scheme has seen a huge increase as those that return to work are looking for alternative transport options meaning that bicycle sales have increased and continue to rise as more businesses return to work
In line with the increase in online retail, Curry’s PC world has launched their “Go Instore” feature which is powering the Currys PC World ShopLive experience. It involves a video-powered retail service that connects online shoppers with product experts using immersive HD live video.
The feature allows Curry’s employees to showcase products and connect with the customer using the live online chat service which has seen a huge increase in demand. This allows employees to work from home and prevents customers from lining up to purchase products - the perfect solution to prevent over crowded stores.
This Go Instore technology has been widely adopted across some of Europe’s large brand names as the government urges companies to provide a safe working environment for their employees.
However, Goodbody Stockbrokers have warned that lifting the restrictions too slowly may cause more damage to the economy and result in widespread business failure. While the government has been quick to assist businesses and offer unemployment aid, Goodbody reports that Ireland’s plans to reopen the economy have been more conservative when compared to international timetables which means the government will have to offer extended assistance to businesses to prevent them from collapsing.
On a positive note, with the recent success of containing the spread of the virus, analysts suggest the timetable could be implemented more quickly than originally planned. However, almost half of jobs in Ireland are sustained by international demand, the rate of recovery will rely in a large part on the economic recovery in the global market.
Goodbody's chief economist Dermot O'Leary said: "Ireland's attractiveness as a destination for large ICT and healthcare firms puts it in a good position to gain from recovery. However, while a simple narrative about the potential recovery is appealing, it ignores that different sectors of the economy will reopen at different speeds, and many businesses will not reopen at all."
Tokyo lifted it’s restrictions on restaurants and bars a few weeks before Ireland and has employed a digital hostess that implements stringent hygiene methods, recording customers’ temperatures and requiring them to wash their hands before entering. Customers are then required to step into a machine similar to an airport security scanner to be sprayed with a mist of chlorine-based disinfectant for 30 seconds. Restaurants have also installed protective barriers across the table.
Irish restaurants and bars have implemented a 2 meter distance between tables and are enforcing a 90 minute rule, however, stringent disinfectant measures seem to be more popular and effective internationally, helping customers feel safer.
Safety Pois Ireland is a new product launched last week to address not only social distancing in the work-space but also provides a traffic management system that will manage flow and prevent overcrowding within the workplace……... and the beauty of this system is that it is totally intuitive.
Safety Pois – Dots to Restart will help companies with their return to work protocols and can be easily adaptable to different spaces such as corporate offices / factory floor / shopping centres / retailers / stadia / airports / museums / hotels etc.
It is a patented idea based around the concept of a traffic light system, Green for go, Amber you pause, on Red you stop. These series of coloured dots are mapped onto the floor of your workspace with a series of 30cm dots, all positioned 2mtrs apart providing a clear and self-managing traffic flow system within the workspace.
It is simple and effective, therefore it removes the responsibility for enforcing social distancing in the workplace from the employer and places it in the hands of the individual, if you are on red you can stop if you are on green you must keep moving…….it is that simple!
The concept originated in Italy and has been licensed in Germany, France, Spain and now Ireland and the UK. Safety Pois Ireland are manufacturing, distributing and installing all locally here in Ireland ensuring the supply chain should a 2nd / 3rd wave of Covid 19 occur in Europe.
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