The easing of lockdown restrictions will mean a welcome return to work for many businesses but also create a new headache: how to cope with pent-up demand while protecting consumers.
Shutting thousands of businesses and halting the provision of routine services since mid-March means some will have to cope with unprecedented demand when they return. In some cases, this amounts to months-long waiting lists.
Hairdressers are already reporting a huge spike in appointments made over the past week and the cost of a haircut is also likely to increase because of a need for personal protective equipment (PPE) and huge pressure on business owners.
Optometrists and opticians expect to see huge demand for their services. Driving tests are also likely to be affected, with a surge in demand. Meanwhile, dentists are concerned they will be unable to return to pre-pandemic levels of service.
Mark O'Keeffe, a member of the Irish Hairdressers Federation executive, said hair salons would have to adapt when they reopen their doors.
He said serving teas, coffees and alcohol to customers is likely to be suspended to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Customers are also unlikely to find a magazine in salons because of health risks.
O'Keeffe owns seven hair salons in Dublin, including Brown Sugar. In the week since it was confirmed hairdressers will be able to reopen on July 20, his salons have had more than 2,000 confirmed bookings. This amounts to a two-week waiting list and calls are still coming in. By the time doors reopen, it is predicted waiting lists will be months long at salons across the country.
"Usually we have about 1,200 people per week but that will all change. Everything is going to take longer and social distancing means we'll have fewer people in at one time. Then stations will have to be sanitised after a customer has finished. This will be the new normal until we get a vaccine."
Measures under which salons will operate come with a significant financial cost. O'Keeffe feels this is difficult to absorb and will be partially passed to consumers.
"From a business model point of view, the fixed costs are the same, such as rents. If landlords don't work with us in terms of reducing rents or freezing them, it is hard to see how the numbers will add up. That is our biggest fear.
"The extra cost will probably also be incurred by the client with a very small price increase. PPE is going to cost us a lot. I have ordered 20,000 masks and 40,000 gloves and disposable gowns. That is a huge cost to me, but it might only cost a customer an extra fiver."
Optometrists also expect to have to deal with pent-up demand and are being advised to routinely go through waiting lists to prioritise customers who require urgent assistance.
How an eye exam is conducted will also change. In some instances, face shields will be added to equipment to protect a client and the optometrist as they come in close contact. In other cases, new equipment will have to be purchased to put a greater distance between people during an eye exam.
Association of Optometrists Ireland clinical and professional adviser Lynda McGivney-Nolan said tests for glaucoma will also need to be adapted. Usually these are carried out with a puff of air blown in to the eye by a machine to check for pressure. These are considered an aerosol risk because of Covid-19 and may inadvertently cause the virus to spread, so will be stopped. "There are other ways to carry out that test," McGivney-Nolan said.
Waiting lists at her practice in Bray, Co Wicklow, are already nine weeks longer as a result of the business being shut during the pandemic.
"Social distancing means we can't have waiting rooms full of people. Patients are going to have to wear PPE and the exam will be done differently so will take more time," she said.
"You are seeing fewer patients, they will take up more time and obviously it is going to cost more money, so it is going to be very challenging.
"Telephone triaging of patients and identifying those who need to be prioritised is going to be very important."
The delivery of other key services will also be hit by the impact of not being able to operate for months. Most Road Safety Authority services have been suspended until further notice.
Vehicles due for an NCT on or after March 28 have been given an extra four months' grace. Extensions have also been placed on driving licences and checks on commercial vehicles. However, it remains unclear when service may be able to return.
"Following the publication of the Government's roadmap for the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions, we are actively developing resumption of work plans for all services suspended and when services might be able to reopen," an RSA spokesman said.
"We will also need to consult with the relevant authorities and stakeholders to ensure the reopening of any services meets the Government's and health authorities' guidelines to prevent the further spread of Covid-19. As soon as this is completed, we expect the public will be formally notified on when services will restart."
Among the factors to be considered here is how social distancing can be maintained between drivers and instructors during driving tests. This is easier with motorcycle and truck tests but challenging in a car. Waiting lists for driving tests were down to about six weeks before the pandemic but demand is likely to have increased in the weeks when testing has not taken place.
"It is important to say that a number of our services will probably ramp up on a phased basis with new protocols in place to meet health guidelines and where customers may need to be prioritised," the RSA spokesman said.
Meanwhile, dentists are concerned they are unlikely to be able to return to pre-pandemic levels of service when they reopen. The Irish Dental Association (IDA) met Health Minister Simon Harris last Friday to seek State support to cope with the Covid-19 crisis. IDA chief executive Fintan Hourihan said dentists need "financial aid as well as support in obtaining adequate PPE" to ensure the sector survives.