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140,000 workers laid off due to coronavirus

It is estimated that around 140,000 people have been laid off work in Ireland because of the measures taken to tackle the coronavirus.

This is a combination of 70,000 restaurant workers, 50,000 pub and bar staff, and around 20,000 crèche and childcare workers.

Those eligable are being urged not to go to Intreo, the public employment service, offices, to abide by social distancing rules and avoid long queues.

A simplified version of the jobseekers form is available on the website – this must be downloaded, filled out and returned by post.

Additional staff are still being trained so it may be this afternoon before the scheme is fully operational.

The scheme will be accessible for those who do not have a Public Services Card, but the card will help to streamline things.

The Government is to establish a temporary refund scheme for employers forced to cease trading as a result of social distancing measures to help delay the spread of Covid-19.

Where possible, employers are being asked to pay workers at least the equivalent jobseekers’ rate of €203 per week during a six-week period.

The Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection said employers can claim a refund for the payments under the temporary scheme.

This new temporary refund scheme,will be available to all employees and the self-employed who have lost work as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Department has said employers can claim a refund for the €203 a week payments to workers.

Individuals applying for the payment will have to apply for normal jobseeker’s payments within the six week period – a simplified application will be available on the Department’s website.

Once that is received, the Department will process the claims and reconcile payments.

Workers who are laid off without pay do not need to visit an Intreo Centre, due to social distancing recommendations.

Refunds are expected to take some time to process, but banks will provide working capital finance in the form of overdrafts, or short-term loans to cover costs.

Meanwhile, the CEO of the Restaurants Association of Ireland has appealed to the Government to issue a directive ordering restaurants and cafés to close. 

Adrian Cummins told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that they had been expecting to be told to close at the weekend.

“We want to close but they need to tell us so that everybody closes.

“Social distancing is not working in Ireland at the moment and we need to have a national call right across the country that any area where you have the opportunity for collective gathering needs to be now closed down”.

Mr Cummins said that a directive must be issued to ensure no businesses take the opportunity to open.

He said that a number of pubs chose to open over the weekend, while many others closed.

“This needs to happen this morning, in the best interest of the public’s health. I’m appealing to the Government to issue an order for us to close down immediately”.

Mr Cummins said that up to 70,000 employees in restaurants and cafés will be temporarily laid off.

He said this will put a “huge strain” on the social welfare department. He urged employees not to go to the Intreo office and to apply online instead.

Around 80% of cases of Covid-19 will be a mild to moderate illness, close to 14% have severe disease and around 6% are critical.

Generally, you need to be 15 minutes or more in the vicinity of an infected person, within 1-2 metres, to be considered at-risk or a close contact.

There have been 169 cases in Ireland and two deaths to date, with 45 cases of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland.

Governments across Europe have all been using the same charts, showing the same pattern of a steep, narrow peak, bursting through a line representing the capacity of the health service, followed by a gently rising and falling hillock, that is supposed to represent a longer, slower rate of coronavirus infection, one that does not overwhelm the health service.

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