Shoppers from Londonderry took advantage of the relaxed coronavirus lockdown measures across the border in the seaside town of Buncrana in County Donegal on Monday.
While not all shops in Buncrana are open yet — it will be a few weeks yet before restaurants, cafes and bars can trade, those that were, had measures in place to protect both staff and customers.
The re-opening comes just days before small retail traders in Northern Ireland can welcome customers inside their stores again.
The links between Derry and Buncrana is so interwoven that most shops and shoppers trade in both sterling and euro and it is impossible to decipher which place someone is from by accent alone.
With the Garda and PSNI essential journey check-points that had become a fixture at the border gone, it wasn’t surprising that people from Derry were in Buncrana enjoying not just the shops but the sunshine too.
Among them were Bridie and Bernard Doherty who said: “We always love coming to Buncrana and we have missed not being able to since the lockdown.
“We have kept to the rules of the lockdown all along so it is lovely to be able to walk along and go into the shops and have a look around.
“The queues annoy me so it is great to be somewhere where there’s no queue at all but it is a pity we can’t go somewhere for our lunch while we are here.”
Inside the Shoe and Sport Shop on the Main Street every possible precaution was in place including the provision of face shields for staff member, Mary Longwill.
She said: “We have been closed since March 14 so it is just great to be back at work. We have had a steady trade all morning and I am loving it.
“We only permit two people at a time inside the shop and it’s working well.
“People are already well used to having to wait to get inside a shop, but the only thing is we are not doing any measuring of people’s feet because that can’t be done while staying two metres away.”
Across the street, Nicola McLaughlin who owns Sequin Cinderella admitted to feeling a bit nervous about opening on Monday but that soon disappeared once she saw how well her safety measures were working.
She said: “When I arrived to open up, there was already someone waiting to come inside and there has been a steady flow of people all day which is great.
“I have been doing business online since the lockdown which has been great but I was a bit nervous about today - I’m not even sure why, maybe it was because it has been so long since I was working face to face with people.
“As the day has gone on I have settled down and everything has been going well.
“I steam clean clothes that have been tried on or else they go on a quarantine rail for 24 hours and I sanitise everything from the changing rooms, to the card payment machine every time they are used.”
Concern about complacency as the lockdown eases was expressed by Kerry and Sean Doherty, who are local residents on their way to buy a new wardrobe.
Kerry said: “It is great to be able to walk around town but we are still masking up because my dad has cancer.
“We are on our way to Hegarty’s shop to hopefully buy a wardrobe but I would be a bit nervous too because I have noticed people are becoming more lackadaisical.
“People seem to be forgetting that this hasn’t gone away and the numbers of people getting it could go back up again.”