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Retail fears Plans for shops to open 24-hours ahead of Christmas could be dashed

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Dublin’s Grafton Street in the run-up to Christmas (Brian Lawless/PA)

Dublin’s Grafton Street in the run-up to Christmas (Brian Lawless/PA)

Dublin’s Grafton Street in the run-up to Christmas (Brian Lawless/PA)

Shops considering opening for 24-hours a day in the run-up to Christmas to deal with a surge in business may have to apply for planning permission.

All non-essential shops must remain closed until at least December 1 due to Covid restrictions, leaving business owners fearful of a chaotic few weeks as people rush to buy presents.

It comes as Penneys boss George Weston called for 24-hour retailing to be allowed once lockdown restrictions are lifted to help with crowd management and social distancing.

Extend

Some of Ireland's biggest retail stores revealed they are looking to extend their hours, as is standard practice around Christmas, but any business looking to open for 24 hours will have to apply for planning permission.

"Where there is a condition in relation to opening hours, then any changes to the opening hours would be subject to a planning application to amend them," said a spokesperson for Fingal County Council.

Legal sources said shopping centres based near residential areas would have to apply for a material change of use as extending opening hours could impact the environment and be subject to objections due to concerns about traffic congestion.

"Some shopping centres, for example, might also run into issues with the management company regarding opening hours. There is no one-size-fits-all scenario," a source said.

"The Government has the power to make a temporary exemption and waive the need for planning if it wishes due to the unprecedented nature of the pandemic."

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