County Kildare businesses ready to reopen their doors

Reopening: As business and cutsomers look forward to the reopening of local enterprises teething problems are inevitable

Paul O'Meara and Senan Hogan

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Paul O'Meara and Senan Hogan

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County Kildare businesses ready to reopen their doors

Swan's on the Green in Naas has been operating a limited service throughout the lockdown

One of the sectors of the local economy which could see the busiest trade in coming weeks as stores begin to reopen is DIY.

Many outlets have been trading online during the lockdown and delivering goods to doorsteps.

There was a big demand for tins of paint, gardening equipment and home renovation materials.

Topline Willoughby’s in Monasterevin spoke while preparing its ‘bricks and mortar’ store to re-open on this morning.

Strict social distancing rules will be in place and there will also be hand sanitising facilities for customers and plastic screens at till counters.

The family-run hardware, DIY and builders’ providers, which is in operation since 1948, was very busy trading online in recent weeks as households used the ‘’lockdown’ to carry out work around the house and garden.

A spokesperson said: “We have been very busy taking orders on the phones and online.

“Everybody wants to be doing jobs with their spare time and people are making the most of the great weather.”

She added: “We would like to thank our customers for their custom and their understanding.”

Meanwhile hardware, DIY and gardening supplier TJ O’Mahony Plus is also reopening its store in Prosperous today.

It closed its doors on March 27 following the government’s restrictions but has been busy trading via its new online store for the past month.

The business said that due to the Covid-19 restrictions, many people are spending more time at home and the bonus of the sunny weather has definitely led to an increase in demand for products.

The online store initially experienced a very high volume of orders and staff had to adapt to Covid-19 guidelines but it was lucky to be able to generate some income.

Eugene Williams, Branch Manager said: “I appreciate all the patience and loyalty demonstrated by both our customers and team alike.

“As a person who shops online frequently, I now appreciate the systems and structures involved in making an online store work, it is a fantastic addition to our offering to customers.”

County Kildare Chamber has welcomed the government’s Return to Work Safely Protocol — a framework to support employers and employees to put measures in place that will prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace when the economy begins to slowly open.

However CEO Allan Shine cautioned that the process involved in re-opening the economy will not be a simple one.

He explained: “Ensuring the health and safety of workers, employers and consumers continues to be our shared goal. As businesses around the country plan for how they will adapt to operating during a pandemic, the Protocol will be an essential framework to enable that.”

He added: “This new announcement comes with a further cost burden for business with the potential of the hire of new staff. Reopening a work place has now become more difficult with the new procedures. The pressure now is immense on business owners and the requirement for financial assistance is essential. Many businesses after this announcement will question the viability of reopening.”

The Chamber will be running forums and webinars on the Protocol in coming weeks and how it applies to the business community in Kildare.

Chambers Ireland will be in discussion with the Department of the Taoiseach this week in relation to the concerns of business in relation to the announcement and also in relation to the roadmap for reopening business sectors

Many restaurants are adapting their businesses to offer takeaways and deliveries which are allowed under the Covid-19 restrictions.

Judge Roy Beans in Newbridge started a take out menu a month ago and many other restaurants and take away food enterprises are doing likewise across County Kildare.

In Naas the Swans on the Green deli and coffee shop had to virtually reinvent itself to remain open and stay within the health guidelines.

“It will be difficult for businesses which are about to reopen and there will be a lot of trial and error to get it right. We had to reconfigure our business in a number of ways and we now have someone at the door all the time. We had to take account of new screens, hand hygiene and changes to the counter layout,” said Larry Swan, who runs the business with sons Ronan and Paul.

He has high praise for the work of the Local Enterprise Office (LEO), based at the Kildare County Council offices building in Naas.

“LEO have the best up-to- date expertise in marketing, health & safety, finance, websites and communications. LEO will be very helpful to any business restarting after five to six weeks,” said Mr Swan.

He added: “It’s an entirely wholae new environment that you have to get used to very quickly and our experience is that a lot of trial and error was needed.”