Major business lashes out at double standards and 'lack of enforcement' of Covid-19 rules
A major Irish retailer has lashed out at what it describes as 'a lack of enforcement of trading protocols' during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Leading furniture retailer, Des Kelly Interiors, says the lack of enforcement of Covid-19 trading protocols is creating 'a major headache' for the longstanding retail chain.
Over 100 Des Kelly employees have been without work since lockdown closed the retailer’s twelve stores in March. However, despite a clear directive that the ‘homewares’ sector was to remain closed, the Managing Director of Des Kelly Interiors, Greg Kelly, claims a number of its competitors have been 'openly trading' for the past week with no censure at all.
In a letter to the Taoiseach this week, copied to Government Ministers and Opposition spokespersons, Greg Kelly asked directly if trading restrictions are being enforced and by whom?
“We have loyal longstanding employees who desperately want to get back to work, but who have accepted the fact that it is not advisable just now, on account of public health and safety”, Kelly writes.
"The problem however is when they see over a dozen competitors stores throwing open their doors and welcoming in customers, while they remain unemployed, and the business they work for is being undermined by this lack of enforcement."
He asked directly if it is 'one rule for some and a different rule for others'.
He continued, “we primarily sell flooring, beds, furniture and accessories and had fully prepared for reopening in phase one, on May 18, in line with the indications coming from the public-health experts. When ‘homewares’ was specifically excluded from phase one opening, at the last minute, the company duly complied with what appeared to be a clear directive not to open. This was despite the fact that the management team had put in an immense amount of work, including staff training, and had gone to significant expense to prepare the stores logistically for reopening safely.
“We had rigorously followed the return to work safely protocol and the guidelines for retailers. But when told not to open, we had to immediately cancel advertising and other promotions and, most significantly, notify our staff at extremely short notice that they would not be returning to work”, Greg Kelly explains.
Mr Kelly says the really frustrating aspect which prompted his letter to the Taoiseach, is the fact that many other local ‘homewares’ stores, with identical stock and services, are open, clearly ignoring the Government directive and trading with impunity.
He claimes the company made numerous inquiries to An Garda Síochána, local Councillors and the HSE, among others, and have received differing answers as to whether or not the business can re-open.
“This is obviously all uncharted territory and, on the health front, the Government and expert advisors are doing a good job. But, the clear instruction that we had on health issues is not translating to the guidelines for getting the economy going again. We need clarity and we need enforcement of whatever protocols are agreed”, the Dublin businessman explains.
The fact that no clear rules are in place, and no authority is policing the guidelines or enforcing sanctions, puts compliant businesses at a great disadvantage, Greg Kelly maintains.
“Our shutters have been down, in full compliance, since March, and it is frustrating to see that there is one rule for some and a different rule for others. Our business, like many others, has a lot of people relying on us. Employees, contractors, trade and services suppliers all contribute to the Exchequer, so it is important that what is being asked of small businesses is crystal clear and properly regulated.”
Des Kelly Interiors is an Irish owned and run family company, in business for over 50 years. It offers affordable quality and expert advice in beds, floorings and home furnishings in 12 retail outlets across Leinster.
Des Kelly Interiors remain closed but take bookings for a private appointment with a bedding and flooring experts and they also have expert flooring estimators on the road bringing showrooms to homes safely.