Retail Ireland described it as a serious blow and said there is very real concern that many vulnerable retail businesses will not survive.

Business reaction to last night’s move by the Government was swift and in large part critical from within the retail community.

Retail Excellence said members were extremely concerned and upset at having to close their business for six weeks ahead of Christmas and predicted 60,000 jobs would be lost.

DublinTown, which represents Dublin city businesses, said its members were dismayed by the decision and said it had sealed the fate of many.

Retail Ireland said the closure of non-essential retail was a serious blow and called for a clear and comprehensive strategy for the unwinding of the restrictions.

Its parent Ibec said it is important now that as much remote and home working as possible is undertaken to facilitate schools, manufacturing and construction activities.

Fitness and leisure sector body, Ireland Active, said its members will need further Government support over the coming weeks to ensure the industry is able to survive and remain viable.

But the Construction Industry Federation welcomed the Government’s decision to allow construction remain open describing it as an “awesome responsibility”.