Statement on roundtable meeting with retail sector

Date published: 15 January 2021

The First Minister and deputy First Minister had a positive engagement with the retail sector today to discuss the ongoing work to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ministers met with sector representatives and major retailers to discuss the implementation of public health measures to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

First Minister Arlene Foster said: “As part of our ongoing engagement with partners across society on the implementation of the public health measures we have had a positive and productive engagement with representatives of the retail sector.

“We heard today about the significant work going on in stores of all types and size across Northern Ireland in response to the pandemic. From the local corner store to the supermarket, there has been significant investment in new ways of operating to keep the shelves stocked and to ensure the safety of customers and staff.

“Each of these businesses is at the heart of our communities. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of those on the retail frontline for their service. Oftentimes it comes with a friendly word, which is so important in these difficult times when so many are feeling isolated.

I would ask every customer to show their gratitude by remembering to wear a face covering, keep to the social distancing rules and to shop alone when possible.”

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “The retail sector has played a crucial role in our response to this pandemic. They have worked in partnership with us and have made a huge effort to make shops safer for staff and customers.

“We had a constructive and open conversation with retailers today to look at what more can be done to protect the community and help reduce pressure on the health service. All retailers can support this effort by limiting numbers in stores; creating space to ensure social distancing is possible; promoting compliance with the public health measures; and ensuring good hygiene practices, including regular cleaning of touchpoints.


“I want to pay tribute to our shop workers who have made sure families have still been able to put food on the table during these hard times. I urge everyone to treat them with the respect they deserve.

“We can all play a part in keeping our shops safer for everyone. Shop alone if you possibly can; keep your distance from others when you’re shopping; don’t stop to talk to people you know; and wear a face covering.”

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