In line with the revised Roadmap to Recovery for Businesses and Society, Golden Island Shopping Centre, reopened in full operational mode to the local public on Monday morning last.
Initially scheduled to reopen on August 10, the shopping centre welcomed customers en masse (with relevant public health guidelines initiated ) as a semblance of normality returned to the perennially popular facility.
Speaking to the Athlone Advertiser on Monday afternoon, Pat O’Toole, Manager, Golden Island Shopping Centre, noted the heightened level of controlled customer activity within the facility as businesses reopened with renewed anticipation.
“We are now fully operational as a shopping centre. During the period of lockdown there was an element of custom within the centre as Tesco, Boots, Holland and Barrett, L&N Family Butchers and latterly, Specsavers, remained opened.
“Opening the shopping centre has now afforded all retail outlets within a ‘lifeline’ and an opportunity to create cash flow during the summer season.
“However, it is a very much changed working environment with the leisure element one associates with a visit to Golden Island Shopping Centre now non-existent for the interim,” Pat remarked.
Understandably apprehensive with regard to the shopping centre operating at maximum service, Pat stated that all relevant public health guidelines implemented were being strictly adhered to by the purchasing public.
“A lengthy queue to enter Penneys had formed from early morning but those who were waiting in line conformed with the necessary social distancing guidelines and there was no issue in this regard,” Pat continued.
Encouraging the purchase of goods and swift departure of customers from the shopping centre during the initial phase of reopening, Pat stressed that all public seating within the facility were presently sealed off.
“While an inconvenience at the moment, customers are wholly understanding as to why such measures are being currently undertaken,” Pat added.
While overseeing the implementation of public health guidelines along the common areas within the shopping centre, Pat has been continuously liaising with the proprietors of the individual retail outlets during the period of lockdown closure, all of whom have been relevantly briefed as they enforce their respective health and safety measures upon reopening.
“The shopping centre has noticeably increased in recent weeks and that is a positive aspect as we look to the future.
“Unfortunately, in the foreseeable future we will be unable to facilitate charity collection days and entertainment showcases which are a regular feature within the shopping centre but hopefully, as public health matters improve we will be able to do so,” Pat asserted.
Noting that each of the 45 stores within the shopping centre will tailor opening hours to suit for the interim period, Pat emphasised that under Government guidance, businesses cannot commence trade until 10.30am.
“There is still an air of business uncertainty at the moment, understandably so, but we have to remain optimistic with regard to the future for all local retailers. There are better retail days to come,” Pat concluded.