It appears as though misinformation about Penneys reopening is being deliberately shared in a bid to dupe people.
A NUMBER OF posts claiming that some Penneys stores will reopen on a phased basis this week have been widely shared on social media in recent days.
The posts claim the retailer is opening a small number of its branches on a trial basis to test its preparedness for phase two of the country’s easing of Covid-19 restrictions.
One post claims that six stores in Dublin will reopen this week, while another says the stores being reopened are spread out nationwide.
Some of the posts have been shared on Facebook hundreds of times.
Certain posts include a link that purports to show which stores are reopening – in some cases, the link redirects to a photo of a snow monkey, also known as a Japanese macaque, raising their middle finger, indicating the original posters are deliberately sharing misinformation in a bid to dupe people.
While some people appear to be in on the joke based on their reactions and comments, many others seem not to have clicked on the link and believe the content of the post is genuine.
When asked about the claims, a spokesperson for Penneys told TheJournal.ie the information is false and no date for reopening any of its Irish stores has been set as of yet.
“We have not made any announcement about reopening in Ireland and social media posts which are circulating with an opening date are false,” a spokesperson said.
“Nothing matters more to us than the health and wellbeing of our employees and customers. That is why we will only reopen our stores once we are convinced that it is safe and right to do so.
“We are closely following all safety advice from government, and will treat this as the minimum standard across all our stores,” they added.
Like many other retailers, Penneys closed its outlets when restrictions were brought in by the government in March in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is not the first time misinformation about Penneys reopening has been widely shared online in recent weeks. Last month, we debunked similar misinformation that claimed Penneys was reopening its Irish stores on 8 June.
Even if Penneys wished to reopen its branches this week or next, it would not be permitted to do so under the government’s plan for reopening the country.
This document states that the only shops allowed to reopen on 8 June (next Monday, when phase two is due to come into effect) are “small retail outlets with a small number of staff on the basis that the retailer can control the number of individuals that staff and customers interact with at any one time”.
Under the current plan, the earliest certain Penneys (those not located in enclosed shopping centres) can reopen will be 29 June (phase three), and even then, the roadmap has strict guidelines about what will be allowed.
Phase three guidelines state: “The opening of all other non-essential retail outlets will be phased in on the basis of a restriction on the number of staff and customers per square metre so that social distancing can be maintained.
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“This is to be limited to retail outlets with a street-level entrance and exit and does not include those in enclosed shopping centres due to higher risk.”
Retail shops in enclosed shopping centres are currently scheduled to open under phase five, which is due to kick in on 10 August.
There is a lot of false news and scaremongering being spread in Ireland at the moment about coronavirus. Here are some practical ways for you to assess whether the messages that you’re seeing – especially on WhatsApp – are true or not.
STOP, THINK AND CHECK
Look at where it’s coming from. Is it someone you know? Do they have a source for the information (e.g. the HSE website) or are they just saying that the information comes from someone they know? A lot of the false news being spread right now is from people claiming that messages from ‘a friend’ of theirs. Have a look yourself – do a quick Google search and see if the information is being reported elsewhere.
Secondly, get the whole story, not just a headline. A lot of these messages have got vague information (“all the doctors at this hospital are panicking”) and don’t mention specific details. This is often – but not always a sign – that it may not be accurate.
Finally, see how you feel after reading it. A lot of these false messages are designed to make people feel panicked. They’re deliberately manipulating your feelings to make you more likely to share it. If you feel panicked after reading something, check it out and see if it really is true.
TheJournal.ie’s FactCheck is a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network’s Code of Principles. You can read it here. For information on how FactCheck works, what the verdicts mean, and how you can take part, check out our Reader’s Guide here. You can read about the team of editors and reporters who work on the factchecks here
Have you gotten a message on WhatsApp or Facebook or Twitter about coronavirus that you’re not sure about and want us to check it out? Message or mail us and we’ll look into debunking it. WhatsApp: 085 221 4696 or Email: [email protected]