Tonight’s Government announcement to move the country to Level 5 on the Living with Covid Roadmap presents another significant moment for Irish business and society. There is a clear emphasis on lives rather than livelihoods, with the evidence, such as it is, still based upon unmitigated growth projections and predicted hospital capacity constraints. We still lack clarity on the cost-benefit analysis of the national strategic goal of suppression. The alternatives of mitigation or elimination have not been clarified in terms of their trade-offs.
Given that the decision on further restrictions has now been made and that the costs for livelihoods has once again been committed, it is now up to all of us all to deliver so that the benefits are achieved. This will require remote working in most cases to ensure that schools, manufacturing and construction can continue. The repression of so-called non-essential retail, hospitality and personal services are a huge cost for the individuals involved. This makes it all the more important that this intervention works and works quickly.
The resources generated by the business community gives us the capacity through Budget 2021 to ensure that we align these dramatic decisions with supports for business and workers most impacted. The Pandemic Unemployment Payment and the Employers Wage Subsidy Scheme will be important channels to underpin these supports.
We didn’t want to be here a second time, but to avoid further uncertainty and further costs, now is a time to fully commit once more. As businesses we must work collectively to present the necessary leadership to ensure stability in the coming weeks for all stakeholders: be they employees, customers, suppliers and the wider communities in which we operate.