“Clothes are not essential”: Minister discusses Government's essential retail list

Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise Damien English has said that clothes are not essential purchases while defending the Government's essential and non-essential retail list.

Mr English appeared on RTE's Prime Time last night, the same day two of Ireland's largest retailers, Aldi and Lidl, announced they are pausing their middle-aisle promotions in line with Covid-19 advice from the Government.

The Government guidelines state that under Level 5, retailers that sell a mix of essential and non-essential goods are required to make arrangements for the separation of the non-essential section.

Speaking on RTs Prime Time, Mr English, the junior minister with responsibility for the retail sector, denied the suggestion by host Miriam OCallaghan that the rules were very confusing, saying: No no, its not confusing, I think weve had this discussion on numerous occasions with the retail sector.

When asked by O'Callaghan why she can "buy a bottle of wine, but not socks for my son", the Minister responded "socks come under clothes, Miriam. Clothes are not essential."

That seems mad, Minister, replied O'Callaghan.

Well, again, whats essential, whats not essential," said Mr English. "The Garda are reinforcing the public health message, theyre helping us to do our job, theyre engaging with the retail sector, encouraging them to do the right thing. To be fair, I recognise that the retail sector is doing [its] best to get it right and if changes are needed therell be changes made.

"Everyone has their own view on this. The whole aim behind this is to discourage the movement of people as much as possible."

Mr English also said that people could not buy wreaths for All Soul's Day on November 2.

"They can't," he said, "because it's not essential trade, what's essential is food. If you're at home tonight in your house, do you really need to go out and buy that wreath this week or next week?"