A semblance of retail normality pervaded at Athlone Town Centre on Monday morning last as customers graced the popular pristine malls, many for the initial time, following the decision taken by the Government to amend the Roadmap to Recovery for Businesses and Society and allow enclosed shopping facilities to reopen enabling a boost to the local economy.
Speaking to the Athlone Advertiser this week, Town Centre Manager, Shirley Delahunt, detailed the convivial atmosphere prevalent as numerous stores which had closure enforced due to relevant restrictions reopened en masse to welcome customers.
“Monday was a glorious morning from a weather perspective equating to the mood of retailers and customers alike. We are a close retail community in the Town Centre and it was a satisfying feeling to welcome back staff members, many of whom had not worked since restrictions were imposed nine weeks ago,” Shirley remarked.
In line with Government guidelines, Shirley asserted that numerous public health measures have been implemented within the Town Centre ensuring that customers can shop in a safe environment.
“The Town Centre has been open while restrictions were enforced and this has afforded management the opportunity to implement health and safety features and tweak as deemed necessary during the intervening period prior to Monday morning last.
“Hand sanitisers have been placed at all entrances and exits, a disinfectant system is in operation to ensure surfaces are regularly cleaned, while the malls are operating a visually enhanced one-way system. Such measures enables the Town Centre to confirm with social distancing measures and while our customers have to adapt as we progress, the health and safety measures are for their ultimate benefit,” Shirley added.
Noting that there will be a “degree of apprehension amongst customers” as they adapt to the “new normal” Shirley stated that security personnel will be readily available on the malls to assist with any queries.
“We are continuously monitoring procedures and guidelines with regard to the public health and safety of our retail staff and customers and as we move forward, I am hopeful that the Town Centre will provide a confident environment in which to work and shop,” Shirley added.
While retail stores have individual opening hours (many opening at 10.30am at the present time ), the Town Centre remains open to the public from 9am-6pm Monday to Saturday and from 12pm to 6pm on Sunday.
Zara, H&M and JD Sports reopened to much trade on Monday morning with expected openings for Next and TK Maxx in the near future.
“There is an air of excitement once again within the Town Centre, akin to our first day of trade. I am optimistic for the future, but I must reiterate that the health and safety of our customers is paramount as we continue to negotiate challenging times,” Shirley concluded.