The first tentative steps towards emerging from the coronavirus lockdown were taken on Monday morning as business owners and the public in Tipperary availed of some restrictions being lifted in phase one of the Covid-19 recovery process.
Queues formed outside Chadwicks builders providers and at Clonmel Garden Centre from before official opening time on Monday morning while some intrepid tennis players made a 7.30 am return to the courts at Hillview Sports Club and there were some early starters at golf courses throughout Tipperary as bans on some sporting activities were lifted.
An integral part of the government plan for a staged recovery was the decision to allow builders back to work on Monday and they arrived in Chadwicks eager to collect their supplies to enable them to get back to work on building sites all over South Tipperary.
“We were closed for seven weeks so we were expecting to be busy this morning when we opened at 8am” said Chadwicks manager Seamus Ryan.
“The building sites are back today but it will take a few days for them to get up and running on the sites” said the Chadwicks manager.
“People coming in this morning have been very good in terms of observing social distancing and other measures .
“We were lucky that people have had to get used to it in the supermarkets for the last six weeks so they knew what to expect when we opened this morning as the same rules applies in terms of social distancing”, said Mr Ryan .
The time sheet at Clonmel Golf Club was full from 8am on Monday with golfers keen to get back into action.
"Everybody was delighted to get back playing, the freedom of it and being able to chat to friends. It was great to be back" said club secretary Aine Keating.
Nearby Slievenamon Golf Club also welcomed back its members on Monday as Tipperary got back in the swing.
There was no mad rush involved at Chadwicks as builders lined up in an orderly fashion to collect supplies that had already been ordered as Clonmel and the country started a return to some kind of normal economic activity on Monday morning.
“A lot of them would have emailed or phoned in their order so they just had to come and collect this morning” said Seamus Ryan, manager at the Chadwicks store inClonmel.
Staff at Chadwicks have been preparing for the opening for the last few weeks.
A skeleton staff had been in place to keep supplies out to builders who were involved working on hospital projects and over the last few weeks staff have had to be trained to implement the guidelines now in place at the store due to the coronavirus crisis.
“We have been preparing for weeks, training staff, putting in place social distancing signage, putting up perspex and making sure we all knew what to do to create a safe environment.
Only six people are allowed into the store at any one time and we have to sanitise work station areas and other areas of the store twice a day” said Mr Ryan.
“There was a big run on paint this morning and we are selling a huge amount of perspex. It is great to see things open up again” said the manager of the store which opened in Clonmel in 1972
At Clonmel Garden Centre in Glenconnor there was a steady stream of people arriving from early morning going in one entrance and leaving at another laden down with beautiful flowers and plants with happy smiles on their faces.
Among the happy customers was Anne Louise Quigley who was delighted to be able to go about her normal business.
"I just wanted to buy a present of a plant for a friend who is ill and I picked up a few things for the garden myself .It is great to be able to go out and do the normal things again" she said.
Manager at the garden centre Chris Hanna said he was delighted to see people waiting to get in twenty minutes before the 9am opening time.
"We have been getting ready for this day for a few weeks. It was great to welcome people back today" said Mr Hanna.
The staff have been busy organising signage for social distancing and making plans for a new entry and exit one way system for the store which he said was working well.
The car park was filling up from early on as people arrived to do their business.
"Our restaurant is closed and will be for some time I expect but it was absolutely fantastic to see people arriving to look at the plants and flowers and pick up what they needed" said Mr Hanna..
He said they had operated a click and collect at the front gate which had kept them busy and online sales had really taken off during the closure because of the coronavirus.
"In the first week of the closure we had three staff but we had to keep bringing people back because of the demand on line and the phones were very busy
“Today we have fourteen staff back and in the last few weeks we have had ten staff working to keep up with the on line demand from all over the country.
“Getting that on line business from all over the country was a bonus, there is a huge market out there.
“Web sales in April were more than what they were in the whole of 2019" said the manager.
Aine Keating, secretary at Clonmel Golf Club said Monday was a wonderful day at the club.
"Everybody was delighted to be back playing golf. It worked very well.
“People booked on line and went from the car to the tee. Three people went out every fourteen minutes and it worked very well.
The time sheet was full from 8am to 7.1pm5. " said Aine
Aine said everybody was very impressed with the condition of the course and all adhered to the strict rules in place which enabled them to open up for business.
"They had access to toilets but the locker room was closed, the bar and social area in the clubhouse was also closed off.
“ It was from the car straight to the tee and back to the car. It did work very well . There is a good rota in place and we have stewards on duty all of the time to guide people through the new rules”, said Aine.
Hillview was also full of activity on Monday morning with the tennis courts and pitch and putt course in perfect condition.
"It was great to be back and to see the facilities being used again.
“It was busy on Monday with plenty of parents and their kids turning up to play which was fantastic to see.
“It is a great opportunity to get out and be active and the facilities are there" said Hillview stalwart Seamus O'Doherty.