Support for companies impacted by Covid discussed

The Cabinet Economic Recovery Committee has concluded its discussions on pandemic supports available to businesses.

It is understood that no decision was taken at the meeting regarding the extension of the wage subsidy scheme in its current form.

As it stands, it should be reduced next month.

There also remains the government’s position that pandemic unemployment benefit will not reopen to new claimants.

The meeting also looked at issues relating to pensions and inflation.

It comes as the mood in government ahead of tomorrow morning’s Cabinet meeting is described by some as “calm” and “considered”.

It is believed that it will be next week before a scan can be undertaken to see if the measures announced last Tuesday can reduce the transmission of the virus.

Several government sources indicate that there will be no “knee-jerk” reactions even if the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) meets this Thursday.

Some believe any change suggested Thursday could be “minor.”

The Cabinet will be informed in the morning of the trajectory of the virus, the number of people who have received booster vaccines and it will consider a proposal to make antigen tests more affordable.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said tonight that “the incidence of Covid-19 continues to rise, and today we are again reporting a worrying number of confirmed cases.”

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The Taoiseach said earlier that the government was aware that last week’s decision to impose a midnight closing time on pubs, restaurants and nightclubs had had an impact.

Micheál Martin said the ethic in which they have ruled throughout the pandemic is to support businesses, and in turn workers and employers.

Tonight’s meeting comes amid growing concern over the rising number of Covid cases and increasing pressure on hospitals.

“This is the spirit in which we will be looking at this tonight. I cannot go into detail, obviously we will be guided by the advice we receive. I know the finance and public expenditure ministers will be talking about this. evening, “says Martin.

On the issue of keeping unemployment benefit in the event of a pandemic at its current level, the Taoiseach said the number of people claiming it had risen from 600,000 to 60,000, but given the staff shortage in the hotel sector, its necessity would also be assessed this evening.

“As it stands, feedback is one of the many vacancies in the hospitality industry and challenges in terms of recruiting staff, so the balance needs to be weighed in this regard. “

Barbara Berman of the restaurant and catering company Berman and Wallace said that since people were told to work from home, it was “like a card game” with ten Christmas parties canceled in the next four weeks.

Speaking on RTÉ Morning Ireland, she said that prior to this announcement the momentum had gathered momentum and the restaurant was “once again buzzing” with people returning to work, but now the breakfast. and lunch for workers went from about 50% to 20%. .

Ms Berman’s staff are concerned and it is essential that EWSS is maintained at previous levels.

Speaking on the same program, Padraic O’Kane of Sole & Fire restaurants in Dublin and the Round Room of the Mansion House said public confidence has declined over the past fortnight, and although November and December have been strong in reservations, these are now “completely gone”.

“There is just no work. This is another setback for an industry that is already on life support.”

Mr O’Kane said a typical Christmas party would employ around 100 people and business supports must be fully restored and said unemployment benefit in the event of a pandemic must return to its original level.

The first PUP reduction took place in September, with the maximum rate dropping from € 350 to € 300 per week.

A further reduction was introduced last week as part of the ongoing process of phasing out the payment.

People who received € 300 per week saw their payment drop to € 250, while those at the rate of € 250 fell to € 203, the current maximum rate of the Jobseeker’s Allowance and Allowance.

At its peak in May last year, the PUP was claimed by 605,000 people across a wide range of sectors.

Additional Reports Sandra Hurley, Jennie O’Sullivan

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