Government announces expansion of Covid-19 supports
The Government has announced enhanced business support schemes for the hospitality and arts sectors hit by the latest restrictions.
This includes reopening the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme to new applicants and a relaxation of the turnover reduction figure for the Covid Restrictions Support Scheme scheme to 40%.
There is also an extension of tax warehousing.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar described the supports being announced as considerable.
Mr Varadkar said the measures put in place a level of financial support that is similar or better than the support provided to those sectors when Ireland was in a full Level 5 lockdown.
He said the EWSS will be paid at the full rate until January and will now be reopened to businesses that were able to come off the EWSS in recent months.
Mr Varadkar said in certain circumstances the EWSS will be open to new businesses that were not availing of the scheme because they are not doing as well as a result of the current restrictions that are in place.
The Minister for Finance said that firms who previously de-registered can now re-enter in January if they meet certain turnover and entry criteria.
Paschal Donohoe said these businesses must anticipate that their combined turnover for December 2021 and January 2022 is down at least 30% compared to December 2019 and January 2020 combined.
He said this condition applies to all businesses that commenced operations on or before 30 April 2019.
Mr Donohoe said for those who commenced business on or after 1 May 2019, they must anticipate their turnover for this month and January 2022 will be down 30% compared to their combined turnover for August-November of this year.
Bars, restaurants, cinemas and theatres must now shut their doors at 8pm.
Mr Varadkar said the CRSS will be paid to businesses that feel they have to close because of the restrictions.
He said restaurants and bars can receive this payment if opening to 8pm does not suit their business model or is not practical and would not cover their costs.
He said if a venue stays open until 8pm but operates to 40% of their turnover or less, then they will also qualify for this payment.
The Tánaiste said there will be an extension of tax warehousing by another three months, which he said will help with cash flow for these businesses.
Mr Varadkar said commercial rates will be waived for the first quarter of next year for those sectors most affected.
The Pandemic Unemployment Payment is being reopened to people who are losing their jobs or who have been laid off as a consequence of these restrictions.
He said there are a series of low-cost loans that are available through banks and financial institutions backed by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. He strongly urged employers to keep staff on the payroll.
Mr Varadkar said the restrictions are in place until the end of January, although that could be reviewed if things change “dramatically for the better or for the worse”.
Mr Donohoe said the proof of the effectiveness of the Government’s approach is evident.
“I am confident that what we’re doing makes sense economically, the reason for that is the speed of economic recovery in 2021,” he said.
Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath said €3bn has been warehoused by 100,000 businesses.
The Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) has welcome the announcements.
RAI Chief Executive Adrian Cummins said: “The supports outlined by Ministers Donohoe and McGrath will go some way in supporting economically flattened hospitality businesses and workers across the State at a critical time in the run-up to Christmas.”