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early risers Shoppers queuing since 4am ahead of Penneys reopening in Dublin as Ireland moves to Level Three


Underwear, Christmas pyjamas, and decorations were in high demand this morning when Penneys was the first store to open its doors in the Blanchardstown Centre in Dublin.

After six weeks of being shuttered-up because of Level 5 Covid restrictions there was a lengthy queue of around 200 people outside its doors at 6.30am waiting for them to open at 7am.

Now that the country has moved back to Level 3, retail stores, gyms, barbers and hairdressers can finally open up again and hope to generate some seasonal revenue.

Sandra Hutchinson and her daughter Tammy (11) had been in the centre since 4am to bag a few essentials.

Having driven up from Kildare she said she missed Penneys while it was closed.

“I thought the queue would be massive so I left really early, now I feel a bit foolish,” she said with a laugh.

“I’m here for PJs, socks, and decorations. It’s great to be able to buy some essential clothes again,” she added.

“It’s been a long six weeks,” Sandra explained just as the doors opened at 6.47am and the queue started to snake into the store, being stopped occasionally by security to ensure there was no crowding at the basket collection area.

While social distancing was poor in the queue outside the shop, everyone was wearing masks.

The queue dispersed in less than ten minutes, and from that point there was a steady trickle of shoppers filtering into the store.

Inside the shop there were regular announcements over the speakers reminding people to adhere to social distancing and wear masks.

Discs on the floors also marked out two-metre distances.

Catherine Brady from Clonee arrived at Blanchardstown Centre at 5.45am.

“I only want a few bits and pieces but I was afraid there’d be a queue so I came early because I have to be in work at 9am,” she said.

“I’ll be straight to Dunnes after here,” she added with a smile.

Asked if she was concerned about the country moving from Level 5 to Level 3, Catherine said she thought that it would be fine.

“We’re going to have to live with this Covid thing,” she said.

Others weren’t so sure.

“I think we’ll be back to lockdown in a few weeks if people go mad over Christmas,” said Chloe Mulholland from Blanchardstown.

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Chloe Mulholland in the Penneys store in the Blanchardstown centre as Covid restrictions on shopping are lifted. Photograph by Gerry Mooney

Chloe Mulholland in the Penneys store in the Blanchardstown centre as Covid restrictions on shopping are lifted. Photograph by Gerry Mooney

Chloe Mulholland in the Penneys store in the Blanchardstown centre as Covid restrictions on shopping are lifted. Photograph by Gerry Mooney

“I’m delighted to get back out again, and if we are smart we can be safe,” she said.

“I’m here for a few presents and clothes,” she added.

Vanessa Reilly, also from Blanchardstown, said she missed Penneys and was out to buy what the vast majority of people were buying - Christmas gear and some clothes.

Meanwhile, Dublin City Council has given the go-ahead for a limited number of stalls to go ahead at the annual Henry Street Market in Dublin City Centre, having announced last month that the popular market would not go ahead.

On November 11 the council said the market would not open due to public health fears.

But angry traders, whose families have been operating the market for around 80 years, argued that if the main retail stores could open indoors then they should be allowed to open outdoors.

A meeting between the Council and the traders was brokered by Lord Mayor Hazel Chu, and the traders were informed yesterday that a limited number of stalls would be allowed to operate, and that lots would need to be drawn to decide who gets them.

In a letter to traders the Council offered to accommodate 15 stalls on Henry Street and a further ten on O’Connell Street.

Traders have said they are disappointed that more stalls cannot be accommodated, but have vowed to help each other as best they can.

“We will try to sell stock for those who don’t get stalls so we can help them a bit. Traders depend on the Christmas markets and many have already bought stock earlier in the year,” said one trader.

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