One by one shops across Armagh city centre have been taking the difficult decision to close.
Pubs, bars, restaurants and gyms were told to quit trading from midnight on Friday.
Other shops and businesses have also been putting staff and public first by pulling down the shutters until they feel it is safe to reopen.
The chair of Armagh City Centre Management has described it as a “plight like no other”.
And Art O’Hagan has reiterated calls from the health professionals and government to put into practice social distancing – leaving a space of two metres between yourself and others at all times – in a bid to slow down the spread of COVID-19.
Mr O’Hagan – who has been in business in Armagh for the past 33 years – said: “It is devastating and heartbreaking to witness and I feel for the business community at this time.
“The years of hard work and commitment to nurture and make each of our businesses function. Our community heart is collapsing before our eyes. This plight is like no other.”
But he added: “This is something that is within our control to assist. Please self isolate or be non interactive with clients or anyone other than immediate family at this time, zero gatherings of more than five people, only grocery shop when necessary. The supplies will not run out.
“Do not attend the chemist or the health centre unless absolutely essential. Let them focus on a COVID-19 strategy and those others who really need their care at this time.
“There will be a ‘post-COVID-19’ and we will celebrate it in business and with you the loyal local shoppers and community.
“But we want you there. The future is literally in your hands – wash them and keep your distance.
“CPS and all our team are also there for your guidance in conjunction with ABC Council’s excellent directive of financial short term support. We are online and at your disposal: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, also on 028 3752 8888 .
“Our doors are closed to the public for your and our safety but available 24/7 at your disposal and we will he open again as soon as the guidelines allow us. CPS have been trading since 1987 and will continue to deliver the same level of service, albeit in a different way in the short term, but still in a professional manner during these unprecedented times for our valued customers.
“Be supportive of the front line workers and the vulnerable at this time.
“It is Sunday. We should all be at our preferred church of worship. This virus has even removed this choice from us.
“Do not let it win or beat us. You know the advice – please please listen. Take care and be safe with your loved ones and your close family at this time.”
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