Business leaders have expressed surprise and concern at the recommendation from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) to move the entire country to Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions.
Organisations representing firms said if such a decision is taken by Government, additional measures would be required to support businesses.
Chief executive of the employers’ group Ibec Danny McCoy said that given the seriousness of the NPHET recommendation for our economy and society, the Government’s Senior Officials Group must seek, review and publish the evidence that is underpinning these recommendations.
“It is intolerable that after six months we are still receiving both vague and changing criteria to advance such serious restrictions,” he said.
Chambers Ireland said the extent of the recommendation came as a surprise and the Cabinet will have to consider it very carefully.
“Since the levels were introduced we have been asking for clarity about the support measures that would go with each level, so this is now critical,” said chief executive Ian Talbot.
“But if extensive additional restrictions are introduced, an equally extensive subsidy package will have to be introduced urgently.”
The retail sector said it is “extremely concerned” by the development and the impact this will have on retailers at such a critical time of the year.
“Retailers have done everything asked of them since March and any further lockdown will have a very negative impact and many may not recover,” said Duncan Graham, Chief Executive of Retail Excellence Ireland.
Publicans described the NPHET recommendation as “truly shocking”.
“Pubs only reopened on 21 September after six months shut, so this news will send shockwaves through our membership,” said the Vintners Federation of Ireland.
“There was no expectation the country would go to the highest level, certainly not before ‘moving though the gears’ from Level 2 upwards. What’s the point of the Living with Covid plan if we are allowed lurch so violently to the highest level?
“We need Government to make an early announcement that Level 5 is not an option. There are many counties where the virus is well under control. They must be allowed remain at Level 2.”
ISME said that while it values NPHET’s advice in matters of public health, it is a matter for Government as to how those recommendations are executed.
“In particular, we expect Government to acknowledge the regional infection rates, which remain low in many counties,” said its chief executive Neil McDonnell.
“Ireland is going to have to live with Covid.”
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