by Bronagh Loughlin

 

We are in the midst of our second COVID-19 lockdown; however, some things have drastically changed since the first one.

 

In the first lockdown, only stores supplying food and health products we’re allowed to open.

 

By contrast, in the second lockdown, we are seeing arts and crafts stores, shoe shops, clothing stores, CD shops, alcohol stores, and many more allowed to open.

 

A business owner has spoken out about these changes and how while these ‘non-essential stores’ are allowed to open; their business must remain closed and it’s their livelihood.

 

Lorraine McGuffin, Owner of Zen Tattoo in Drogheda told Meath Live about how the term ‘essential businesses’ has drastically changed.

 

“The country stood still for the first lockdown back in March. The whole country seemed to lockdown, there was a sense of urgency to the situation and for the most part, we all seemed to pull together by staying apart as the saying went.”

 

“The dictionary definition of the term essential is “absolutely necessary; extremely important; crucial. Essential businesses were supermarkets, food shops, whatever we needed to survive. There was no confusion and no unfair practice”.

 

“This time around for the second lockdown it seems what we need to survive has changed greatly, or has it? There is a myriad of businesses staying open, it seems the requirements to stay open have become flexible, nonsensical, unnecessary, and irresponsible.”

 

“Our understanding of the term “essential” has changed, albeit with no clear direction from the powers that be. Are furniture shops essential, are shoe shops essential because they sell work boots?

 

“Are clothes essential… It seems to me that to any business owner their own business is essential but only to them, so who are we referring to when we say essential? Essential for survival, essential for workmen, essential for the country and its population during a pandemic and an apparent lock down.”

 

“No one needs a tattoo to survive. Our day to day wellbeing is not reliant on tattooing, albeit I am reliant on my business to keep a roof over my head. To me, personally, my business is essential but only to me, not to the general public at large and that is why my business is closed.”

 

“Ignoring the fact that tattooing and similar industries such as barbering, hairdressing, and beauticians are some of the most hygienic types of business you will encounter… I operate a one to one in my shop, one client at a time. Only two people in my shop at a time during these uncertain times.”

 

“Yet I am closed for safety whilst anyone can feel free to peruse a furniture store or a shoe shop with many other people and for the most part not practising social distancing, why? Because the powers that be deem it essential, or that business has found a loophole under the latest parameters for the term essential.”

 

Lorraine explained how watching other non-essential businesses being allowed to open makes her feel. “I feel like a coward, not standing up for what is to me essential, I feel misunderstood by government who are as we all know are in uncharted waters but they are being so passive aggressive about this lock down and approach to this pandemic, do we save the population and kill the economy or the other way around, it’s not an easy place to be.”

 

“There are however businesses and people who are taking advantage of this situation. The directive from government was not clear enough, how is it any more essential to have a furniture store open than it is for a gym to stay open, a gym where people have an outlet for the frustrations they are dealing with during this pandemic, a place where they can go to stay healthy, stay fit, it beggars belief that anywhere selling food or work wear are open, some businesses who do not ordinarily sell these things now are to continue to operate by bypassing the loopholes.”

 

“What if we all did that, I could get work boots in to my tattoo shop, start selling cleaning products, any business could find a way through that loophole and yes it would mean we could all still operate for now but no one is looking at the bigger picture, the picture we all looked at during the first lock down, the need for our countrymen and women to stay alive, to kill this disease before it kills us, it seems now it’s each man for himself, no one is in fear of this pandemic any more it seems, it’s the kind of thing that happens to other people so we don’t worry about it, until we are “other people”.”

 

“There is a duty to all businesses with the exception of supermarkets to close for the greater good, the quicker we can all do this and eradicate the spread of infection the sooner we will all get back to work.”