Following a meeting this morning (November 17) of the Chambers of Commerce Chief Executives from around the country, Chambers Ireland, the voice of Business throughout Ireland, released a statement on the Government’s “additional measures to reduce levels of social contact and interrupt the spread of Covid-19”.
Our network expressed their concerns that the current increase in Covid cases is putting pressure on an already challenged health system and the actions which cabinet decided upon yesterday are half-measures which are unlikely to have the effect that government and society is hoping for.
There are serious concerns across the country that further measures will be needed in another few weeks.
Chamber Chief Executives want to remind ministers that it is impossible for businesses to operate in an environment where government recommendations, and public health advice, are undergoing reversals on a week-by-week basis.
The network calls on government to clarify what their contingency plans are. Specifically, businesses need to know what further measures are likely to be introduced should the current circumstances continue to decline at the present rate, and also what measures are likely to occur should the worsening accelerate.
With the increasing likelihood of further measures being needed, government need to recognise that businesses which have had their activities restricted will require immediate supports, including wage subsidies, commercial rates waivers, and the reintroduction of restart grants for businesses where their operations are curtailed entirely.
Speaking following this morning’s meeting, Chambers Ireland Chief Executive, Ian Talbot, said
“There is a growing lack of confidence within the business community regarding the government’s pandemic planning.
“There is a serious concern across the network that we are moving towards another post-Christmas ‘circuit-breaker’ lockdown.
“Businesses are paying the price for a continued lack of action among the unvaccinated, and as a result of a reduction in effective public health measures, such as masking, in the vaccinated population.
“Chambers Ireland is calling for government to take decisive action to mitigate the need for another round of lockdowns. Specifically, the vaccine booster programme needs to be accelerated.
“With almost 200,000 PCR tests being conducted on weekly basis, Covid-19 testing is becoming harder to access. Government needs to take immediate action on making antigen tests more obtainable.
“Legislation needs to be brought forward to allow employers to require that their employees have a vaccinated status, where unvaccinated employees could pose a risk to others.
“The Finance Bill also needs to be amended to ensure that ministers will have the flexibility needed to ensure that state supports are not being withdrawn while lockdowns and other economic restrictions are simultaneously being reintroduced.
“Businesses need to ensure that the mask mandate is strictly enforced across all enclosed spaces, and government needs to take action to ensure that businesses are enabled to do so.”