A level of activity not seen since mid-March, was witnessed in Wexford on Monday as the country began the phased process of re-opening, with selected businesses allowed to trade for the first time in two months.
People wasted no time in flocking to garden centres, DIY stores and hardware shops with queues forming from early morning and outlets doing brisk business throughout the day.
At Woodies in the Wexford Retail Park in Clonard, the queue extended through the car park out to the main footpath as eager shoppers waited to buy home decorating and gardening products.
'Really and truly, everyone is just so happy. Everyone has been saying 'welcome back'. We've had a great response. it's so positive', said manager Jamie Cooney, adding that staff have been working for the past couple of weeks to get the premises compliant with the required social distancing measures.
'People are really happy to get out and buy a few things. They're buying paint and plants, garden furniture and barbecues.'
'They realise there will be no holidays this year and they'll be staying at home so they're investing in the garden'.
'People have been really good about social distancing. We are allowing 30 people in the store at any time and it's one in and one out', said Jamie.
Botanic Home and Garden Centre which opened at the rear of Meadows and Byrne in Drinagh over the St. Patrick's weekend and had to close after just a few days of trading when the Covid-19 lockdown was imposed, was back up and running again on Monday.
'Everyone is delighted to be able to get out and buy plants again. They really missed it', said Emma Cleary who manages Botanic with Luke Hennessy. Luke kept up the watering and tending of plants during the quarantine period.
'The garden has been a great place for people during the lockdown. It has become even more important to them now. And because the lockdown happened so quickly, they weren't prepared so they're thrilled to be able to buy a few things', said Emma.
Customer Leonie Murphy who was buying tomato plants, agreed and said: 'You've no idea. It was my birthday the other day and I was going on about it so much that the family bought me four bags of compost!'.
Customers were buying pull-along trolleys filled with plants at Drinagh Garden Centre which has been open for online orders and deliveries during the lockdown.
'People were queueing outside to get in this morning when we opened', reported manager Mary Gaynor.
'Everyone is delighted. They just missed the garden centres so much. We didn't stop fully, we've been open for deliveries. But people want to come and see what they are getting. They enjoy browsing around the looking at the plants'.
'They are thrilled to be able to come here again. A lot of people are looking at garden furniture. Over the past few weeks online, we would have sold a lot of furniture.'
'The garden is important because they're not going on holidays. They want it nice and they are going to treat themselves and invest in it', said Mary.
Meadows and Byrne which is attached to Botanic Home and Garden Centre in Drinagh was also allowed to re-open on Monday, along with three other Meadows and Byrne stores in Carlingford, Fota and Tralee, which are also linked to garden centres.
Manager Vera Casey said staff had been working hard getting the premises Covid-19-ready prior to re-opening, clearing space, organising a one-way system for customers, covering the floor with social distancing tape and installing cashier screens.
Other requirements included staff completing back-to-work forms and a curtained area being set aside in the event of an employee feeling unwell and having to be isolated.
'We closed on St. Patrick's Day, the weekend of the lockdown. We're delighted to be back and everyone is saying welcome back. It's so lovely.'
'We've had a week getting Covid-19 ready. You have to protect staff and customers', said Vera.
She said Meadows and Byrne would usually have a massive sale around this time but that has been postponed.