Retail Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the retail sector, said such a move across the country would represent a serious blow to the many non-essential retailers that would have to close.

“Many of these businesses were relying on the run up to Christmas to make up for the serious losses suffered earlier in the year,” Retail Ireland said in a statement.

The group also said a clear strategy for the unwinding of these restrictions was required and called on customers to support affected businesses through online and click and collect services where possible.

“It is now crucial that these measures work and we are in a place to reopen retail in advance of Christmas,” it said.

“We simply cannot contemplate serious rolling restrictions into the future. A clear strategy for reopening is vital.”

Earlier, Retail Excellence Ireland warned that any move to close down shops which are deemed “non-essential” would be a massive blow to the sector, and could see another 60,000 jobs lost in retail.

It urged the Government to classify all retail stores as essential so that they can stay open in the run up to Christmas.

Retail Excellence said a forced closure of “non-essential” retail at this time of year would do permanent and serious damage to the Irish non-food retail sector and could cost an additional 60,000 job losses.

It said that since the outbreak of the pandemic retailers have strictly followed all the government advice and guidelines and invested heavily to ensure their premises are safe.

The numbers of cases linked to retail are minimal and it warned that closing at this time will seriously curtail the Christmas shopping season.

“There will be a huge surge in online shopping this year. We know that 70% of the spend online goes to overseas based retailers and we urge shoppers that are going online to go to Irish websites and shop local,” the group said.

Retail Excellence’s managing director Duncan Graham said that pushing the shopping experience into December could be problematic and lead to a frenzied rush of shoppers.

He said a closure of retail business now is “going to be really serious and while it feels like deja vu, the outcome is more serious’.

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However, Miriam Simon said it is more important that action is taken now so everyone can celebrate Christmas.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Six One News, Ms Simon said that while what is being considered may seem unfair, it’s important that retailers understand they are not being told to stop trading completely.

There are many ways to keep the lights on and keep trading, she said.

Ms Simon also added that it’s important for retailers to seek support and help wherever they can, and to communicate with their customers to let them know they are still there.

She urged shoppers to spend their money at Irish stores and said livelihoods depend on it.

The Irish Hairdressers Federation (IHF) has expressed regret and disappointment at the impending Government restrictions on hairdressers and salons.

The IHF said its members believe they should remain open as their salons have carefully followed all necessary measures to combat COVID-19.

“From day one when we reopened, we have followed all guidelines and looked after our customers in a safe environment,” said Lisa Eccles, Vice-President of the organisation.

“We are doing our very best to support jobs and remain open.”