Government need to put in place supports for society and the economy
Social Democrats Co-Leaders Catherine Murphy and Róisín Shortall wrote to the Taoiseach this afternoon with 9 points which they said needed to be “urgently considered” with the aim of supporting society and the economy, and restoring hope among people.
Commenting, Róisín Shortall TD said:
“It is imperative that the Government make the correct decisions at this crucial time, to avoid further serious consequences for our people, our health services and our economy.”
“We believe that the Government must provide people with hope, with something to aim for, as we navigate through this very tough phase. We suggest the Government set an objective for the additional restrictions people have to bear of being able to have a Christmas where they will have family or friends around them”.
The 9 points in the letter are below.
5th October 2020
1. Counties moving Levels
Not all counties need to be on the same Level. A number of counties have less than 50% of the national incidence rate. There must be some benefit/incentive to those counties where people are putting in significant personal and collective effort to stop the transmission of Covid-19, which could be reflected in those counties not moving up a Level.
It is a matter of extreme urgency that, at a minimum, measures are put in place at airports and ports to test, trace and monitor all incoming passengers, or other suitable measures or enforcement to ensure that incoming travellers are not sources of transmission.
3. All-island approach
Immediate talks should begin with the authorities in Northern Ireland to agree an all-island approach to halting the transmission of Covid-19.
Enforcement of existing measures needs to be significantly enhanced. There are continuously reported incidents of gatherings that are defying the current restrictions and that raise serious concerns that they may be sites of transmission of Covid-19.
Urgent consideration should be given to the wearing of masks being made compulsory at all times, apart from medical exceptions. Apart from their proven value in reducing transmission, it may help to be a continuously visible symbol and prompt of the precautions that all people are being asked to take. It is now clear from the evidence that visors are ineffective and in certain circumstances pose more of a risk to people within the 2m zone, and consideration should be given to banning their use.
6. No visitors rule
Any consideration of moving a county to Levels 4 or 5 means that the restrictions on contact/visitors with others will cause significant hardship for many, in particular those many people, of all age groups, who live alone. All of us need connections and social interaction with others, and the prevention of those connections, even for a limited time, is likely to further isolate many people and have impacts on mental health and well-being. If such a move is being contemplated, consideration should be given to permitting some very limited social contact, for example, permitting the same one or two people to visit a single household or to socialise together outdoors – in effect creating a very limited ‘pod’ which would allow some social interaction.
7. PUP Payments
It is essential to restore the level of PUP payments for those who may lose their jobs as a result of escalation of the Levels of restrictions.
8. Supports for Businesses
Significant emergency supports will be needed for businesses who may be forced to close – at least temporarily – as a result of an escalation of Levels of restrictions. On top of the current supports, which experience in places like Kildare have shown to be inadequate in any event, additional supports should cover areas such as any stock that may no longer be useable, frontloaded grants to re-purchase stock before reopening, support with rental payments, waiving of rates, support for other fixed costs, and for many, significant grants to help smaller businesses compete in the online world, especially in the run up to the Christmas shopping season. New measures must be urgently implemented to alleviate the pressure on businesses impacted by the restrictions which are struggling with existing loans and at risk of closure.
9. Security at home
At a very difficult time, people need to feel secure in their homes. It is essential to restore the moratorium on evictions and to implement a measure to enable people to postpone payment of their mortgages without penalty, if their income is impacted by restrictions.