Dublin Has Shopping Fever As Ireland Ends Second Virus Lockdown

Dublin thronged with face-masked Christmas shoppers on Tuesday as Ireland ended a second partial coronavirus lockdown, allowing non-essential retail to resume after six weeks of tough restrictions.

Dozens queued for the mid-morning reopening of upmarket department store Brown Thomas, festooned with seasonal decorations in the epicentre of the capital’s shopping district.

Amidst tables of designer handbags one customer confided in staff that she had taken the morning off work to shop.

“It’s been very difficult,” said Brown Thomas stores director Mark Limby of the six week hiatus.

Ireland loosened restrictions in place since October 22 Ireland loosened restrictions in place since October 22 Photo: AFP / PAUL FAITH

“We have been trading online, that’s been exceptionally good for us. It doesn’t make up for the stores not being open,” he told AFP.

As Ireland loosened virus curbs in place since October 22, museums, galleries, libraries, cinemas and places of worship also reopened.

Close-contact services such as hairdressers and tattoo parlours were also allowed to resume trade.

A tattoo parlour was among the businesses reopening A tattoo parlour was among the businesses reopening Photo: AFP / PAUL FAITH

Ryan Kelly, co-owner of tattoo parlour Heartbreak Social Club, opened a second shop in October as Ireland was on the cusp of returning to a partial lockdown.

It was allowed to trade for one day before the shutters came down for a month and a half.

“We knew it would be a challenge but opening today we’re busy,” said Kelly.

“There’s not really much worse situations we could face in the future.”

The neighbouring George’s Street Arcade — home to 40 independent retailers — closed for the first time since 1892 in March, when Ireland entered its first lockdown.

The government advised people to wear masks outdoors: they are obligatory inside shops The government advised people to wear masks outdoors: they are obligatory inside shops Photo: AFP / PAUL FAITH

On Tuesday shopkeepers returned to unlock premises for the second time.

Owner Gwen Layden told AFP she did not charge rent during the closures.

“The mood is very different,” she said, gesturing to other shops which have not reopened.

“There are shutters all around me here … something happened that they’re not reopening.”

“That’s a lifetime of somebody having invested in their business and that might be over for them.”

Prime minister Micheal Martin said people's sacrifices during lockdown had saved lives Prime minister Micheal Martin said people’s sacrifices during lockdown had saved lives Photo: POOL / Julien BEHAL

On Friday, pubs and restaurants serving food will also open across Ireland, although drinking-only establishments will remain closed.

Ahead of Christmas, the government is urging people to wear masks outdoors on “busy streets”, starting on Tuesday.

In central Dublin noticeably more pedestrians were sporting facemasks, while inside shops they are mandatory.

Infection rates are nevertheless bound to rise in the run-up to the festive season, Foreign Minister Simon Coveney told state broadcaster RTE on Monday.

“The challenge is to keep that increase as low as possible,” he said.

According to the latest official figures, there have been 2,053 deaths from coronavirus in Ireland, a nation of five million.

The daily death toll peaked at 77 in mid-April and in recent weeks has frequently remained in

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Online Shopping, Virus in Winter, Stock Market: Your Monday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. The holiday shopping season started with a bang. But only online.

Consumers spent $9 billion on the web on Friday, a 21.6 percent increase over Black Friday in 2019. The surge in online sales is expected to be outdone today during Cyber Monday, a promotional event that internet retailers concocted in 2005.

Physical stores, however, appear to have had more of a “bleak Friday.” A large portion of consumer spending had moved online long before the pandemic, but the global health crisis is accelerating that trend.

The holiday shopping season comes at a critical moment for the U.S. economy, which is struggling again as the number of coronavirus cases is soaring amid colder weather.

3. Republicans kept up their challenges to the election.

On Dec. 8, the nation’s voting results will be considered final.

Still, in the past week, Republicans have made last-ditch efforts to halt or reverse the certification process in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin (which approved its results today, as did Arizona). Above, Joe Biden campaigning in Wisconsin in September.

There are also two federal lawsuits pending in Michigan and Georgia courts. And Republicans have at least one path to the nation’s highest court: After the Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday rejected their attempts to stop or reverse the certification of Pennsylvania’s results, President Trump’s lawyers vowed to ask the Supreme Court to reconsider the case.

4. U.S. markets ended November with large gains.

Even with a small decline today, the S&P 500 jumped by 10.8 percent in November, its best monthly showing since April and the fourth-best month for the index in 30 years. The Dow Jones industrial average posted its biggest monthly gain since 1987.

Bitcoin, too, achieved a record. The price of the cryptocurrency hit $19,850.11, nearly three years after its last high. Bitcoin has soared since March, after sinking below $4,000 at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic.

But in one of the biggest retail collapses in Britain since the start of the pandemic, Arcadia Group, the company that includes the Topshop clothing chain, has gone into administration, a form of bankruptcy.

A ruling for the Trump administration would upend the agreement that the Census Bureau must count all residents, whatever their immigration status, which has governed the count for more than two centuries.

The decision could shift political power from Democratic states and districts to areas that are older, whiter and typically more Republican.

6. An army of angry farmers is encircling New Delhi.

The tens of thousands of

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How can I stay safe while shopping? 25 common virus questions answered | National News

Oxford scientists expect COVID-19 vaccine data by Christmas

FILE – In this Thursday, April 23, 2020 file screen grab taken from video issued by Britain’s Oxford University, showing a person being injected as part of the first human trials in the UK to test a potential coronavirus vaccine, untaken by Oxford University in England. A key researcher at the University of Oxford says scientists expect to report results from the late-stage trials of their COVID-19 vaccine by Christmas. Dr. Andrew Pollard, an expert in pediatric infection and immunity at Oxford, said Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020 that research was slowed by low infection rates over the summer but the Phase III trials are now accumulating the data needed to report results.

What does COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness mean? It refers to the likelihood that a coronavirus shot will work in people.

Two vaccine makers have said that preliminary results from their late-stage studies suggest their experimental vaccines are strongly protective. Moderna this week said its vaccine appears nearly 95% effective. This comes on the heels of Pfizer’s announcement that its shot appeared similarly effective.

Those numbers raised hopes around the world that vaccines could help put an end to the pandemic sometime next year if they continue to show that they prevent disease and are safe.

Effectiveness numbers will change as the vaccine studies continue since the early calculations were based on fewer than 100 COVID-19 cases in each study. But early results provide strong signals that the vaccine could prevent a majority of disease when large groups of people are vaccinated.

U.S. health officials said a coronavirus vaccine would need to be at least 50% effective before they would consider approving it for use. There was concern that coronavirus vaccines might be only as effective as flu vaccines, which have ranged from 20% to 60% effective in recent years.

The broad, early effectiveness figures don’t tell the whole story. Scientists also need to understand how well the vaccine protects people in different age groups and demographic categories.

For both vaccines, the interim results were based on people who had COVID-19 symptoms that prompted a virus test. That means we don’t know yet whether someone who’s vaccinated might still get infected — even if they show no symptoms — and spread the virus.

Also unknown is whether the shots will give lasting protection, or whether boosters will be required.

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