Readers welcome but no browsing – Bookshops reopen to the public
From today (08 June) bookshops in the Republic of Ireland can open to the public again. The lockdown caused by the Coronavirus has been a difficult time for bookshops, particularly smaller, independent ones. Many have managed to survive by selling books online. Some shops have revamped their websites and online services, while for others it was their first venture into cyberspace. However, they can now all return to selling books over the counter.
Like everywhere else, a ‘new normal’ will apply. The two metre distancing rule means that shops will have to limit the number of customers at any one time. Where possible, a one way system will be used to ease the flow of customers and ensure social distancing. Another feature of the new normal is that browsing will not be allowed. Customers will be discouraged from wondering aimlessly around the shop and even from taking books off the shelf.
Just how all this is going to work out in practice remains to be seen. Bookselling Ireland has done great work in giving practical advice and support to bookshops across the country. They have also distributed reopening point-of-sale kits which includes safe distance signage, and provided a €57 grant towards protective screens. With hand sanitisers at the door and queuing outside the shop, the book buying experience will be very different for the foreseeable future. Some shops may not survive the current crisis but the government’s allowing them to reopen has thrown them a vital lifeline. We hope that booklovers across Ireland will respond by supporting their local bookshops.