A ban on click and collect services will further setback retailers, a retail representative body has warned.
The Government is considering a temporary ban on click and collect services for non-essential retailers as part of a range of new restrictions to curb the coronavirus pandemic.
An announcement on stricter measures is expected after Cabinet ministers meet to deliberate the measures.
Retail Excellence managing director Duncan Graham said the retail industry fully acknowledged the necessity of further restrictions but said the move would have a “disproportionately negative” effect on smaller retailers.
Mr Graham said: “Non-essential retailers closed their doors on New Year’s Eve and have fully complied with what has been asked of them by the Government.
We feel this move, however well-intentioned to restrict people’s movement, will have a disproportionately negative effect on smaller retailersDuncan Graham, Retail Excellence
“It is clear that the country is facing an enormous challenge and of course we acknowledge that the Government must act to halt the spread of Covid-19, but there is little public health risk in allowing customers collect goods from non-essential retailers who remain shuttered because of the lockdown.
“We feel this move, however well-intentioned to restrict people’s movement, will have a disproportionately negative effect on smaller retailers.
“We need to move now to substantial discussions as to how Government can support retailers particularly in respect of rents and other fixed costs.
“Many of our members will have been closed for almost half a year by the time we get to the anniversary of the pandemic in March, and they need help urgently if they are to reopen when this emergency passes.”
Retailers were forced to shut their doors on New Year’s Eve under the latest Covid-19 restrictions, but they were allowed to continue with click and collect services and online deliveries.
A Cabinet sub-committee on Tuesday put forward a number of new proposals, including closing schools, construction sites, creches and click and collect shopping.
It comes after reports the more virulent UK variant of Covid-19 was found in around 25% of cases in Ireland, up from 10% previously.
A separate variant, believed to be more virulent, has also been discovered in South Africa.
The HSE confirmed on Wednesday that the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 has surpassed the peak of the first wave.