The Cabinet will meet today to discuss the possibility of lending more support to businesses during the coronavirus outbreak.
Speaking on the Late Late Show last night, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar indicated that unemployment and wage supports put in place as a result of Covid-19 restrictions will be extended.
Mr Varadkar said Ireland as a nation had successfully flattened the curve and had saved thousands of lives, however the virus was not suppressed enough to ease restrictions as much as he would have liked.
He suggested that the unemployment and wage supports in place are likely to be extended, saying neither the Covid-19 wage subsidy scheme nor the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment can last forever, but it would not be right to unwind it before those sectors can actually reopen.
He said the GAA All Ireland Championship could possibly go ahead behind closed doors in August and September, and suggested some counties could be allowed to ease restrictions to contain the virus quicker than others.
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The Taoiseach also said that wearing face masks could be advised in certain scenarios.
Mr Varadkar also said re-opening the country could be more difficult than shutting it down.
He said there are going to be difficulties, and there are going to be rows and disputes, but said the country can get through it.
Leo Varadkar was speaking on last night’s Late Late Show
He also said he does not expect there will be a new government until June, saying the country needs it.
The current government is functioning well, he said, but cannot go on like this forever.
The Government yesterday set out its road map on easing the Covid-19 restrictions.
The plan sets out five stages for unlocking restrictions, at three-week intervals.
From next Tuesday 5 May, people over 70 who have been cocooning can go outside their homes if they avoid all contact with other people.
The 2km limit on travel that is currently in place for exercise for the general population is to be extended to 5km.
The road map will kick in on 18 May and here’s what is scheduled to happen in each stage:
Phase 1 (18 May)
- Allow outdoor meetings between people from different households
- Open up childcare for healthcare workers
- Phased return of outdoor workers
- Open retailers which are primarily outdoor or those which were open during first level of restriction (e.g. opticians)
- Opening of certain outdoor public amenities
Phase 2 (8 June)
- Allow visits to households
- Develop plans and supports to open up business with consideration for safety of staff and customers
- Open small retail outlets and marts where social distancing can be observed
- Open public libraries
Phase 3 (29 June)
- Allow small social gatherings
- Opening of crèches, childminders and pre-schools for children of essential workers in phased manner
- Return to work for those with low levels of interaction
- Open non-essential retail outlets with street level entrance and exit
- Open playgrounds
Phase 4 (20 July)
- Opening of crèches, childminders and pre-schools for children of all other workers on a gradually increasing basis
- Return to work for those who cannot work from home
- Gradual easing of restrictions for higher risk services (e.g. hairdressers)
- Opening of museums, galleries, places of worship
Phase 5 (10 August)
- Allow larger social gatherings
- Return to work across all sectors
- On a phased basis, commencing at the beginning of the academic year 2020/2021, opening of primary and secondary schools and third level institutions
- Further easing of restrictions on high risk retail services
The Government said that the risk of a second wave of the virus is ever present.
In a statement yesterday, it said: “As a country, we can only move from one phase to the next if the virus stays under control between each phase”.
The statement also reiterated that there will be a long-term need for physical distancing, for good hand hygiene, for respiratory hygiene, regular cleaning and for people to stay at home and isolate if they are sick.