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Government will be there to help those affected by the Level 5 restrictions – Varadkar; Tanaiste reminded of PUP and other schemes

DUBLIN: With the entry into force of the Level 5 restrictions in Ireland, Tanaiste Leo Varadkar has shared his promise of help for non-essential businesses. He said the restrictions would be a major blow to workers and employers, particularly those working in the retail and fitness sectors.

But he reminded that the government is there to help those affected by Level 5 and there are Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) and other schemes in place.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin had earlier announced that the Level 5 restrictions would come into effect from midnight yesterday to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As a result, non-essential retail stores will have to shut down and an estimated 400,000 jobs will be lost.

‘It’s a very hard blow to the people of Ireland, not least those working in the retail and fitness sectors, which will close their doors tomorrow. But i want to say once again the Government is here to help. First of all the Pandemic Unemployment Payment will remain in place until the end of March at least,” the Tanaiste said.

Mr. Varadkar says 50,000 people were laid off on Christmas Eve when the hospitality said was closed. He said that the government expects another 400,000 to be laid off in the next couples of days. This means that the Pandemic Unemployment Payment Number will rise to about 350,000 people, he added.

In addition, he reminded of the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme. He said this would allow employers to keep employees on the payroll for the entire winter.

The Tanaiste also said that the weekly CRSS (COVID Restriction Support Scheme) would be made available to close businesses to help with their fixed costs. “Those businesses that are closing tomorrow [Thursday] will receive a double payment for two weeks,” he said.

In addition, he assured that businesses closed in the first quarter of 2021, including hospitality, entertainment and retail, will be exempt from commercial rates. “More help will be available in the spring and summer when people are able to go back to work and those businesses reopen,” the Tanaiste said.

“Not withstanding this, Ireland still have one of the lowest incidences of the virus in Europe, our hospitals and ICU are under pressure but have capacity.”

“We pushed back the virus twice before and we can do so again. We stay at home, we stay apart, and in doing so we remove the opportunity the virus has to spread from person to person. Remember if it doesn’t spread from you to another person within 14 days, it dies,” Mr. Varadkar said.

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