Hardware stores should not be open to the general public, the Government has clarified, following widespread confusion in recent days.
Business Minister Heather Humphreys said that hardware stores can operate in a "very limited and restricted way" and should not be open to the general public.
Hardware and garden shops were classed as 'essential retail outlets' under emergency laws giving gardaí the power to enforce restrictions. This was despite such stores being told to close by the Government at the end of March.
Some hardware stores around the country started to reopen last week on the basis of the new regulations.
Hugh O'Donnell, the CEO of Topline, which supplies more than 160 independent hardware stores, said he had been told by a senior Department of Business official that hardware stores and builders' merchants could reopen.
The department did not deny this was the advice being given to hardware outlets and referred to the regulations signed by Health Minister Simon Harris, which classed them as essential retail outlets.
Mr O'Donnell said there had been "widespread confusion", while Retail Ireland's Arnold Dillon added that "there remains confusion as to whether DIY, hardware and gardening centres are free to open, and if so what restrictions apply".
The department issued a clarifying statement at the weekend, saying: "Hardware and other stores shouldn't be open to the general public.
"Such outlets are not to open except on the emergency and/or delivery basis as set out in the updated retail services list. That list is unchanged."