Businesses to seek instant end to lockdown and halving of 2m rule

Ibec will tell Dáil committee phased easing of coronavirus restrictions is too conservative

Danny McCoy, chief executive of Ibec. Photograph: Alan Betson

Danny McCoy, chief executive of Ibec. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Ibec chief executive Danny McCoy will call for the immediate removal of quarantine restrictions related to coronavirus and the replacement of the 2m social distancing to a 1m requirement when he appears before the Oireachtas committee on Covid-19 on Tuesday.

In his opening address, Mr McCoy will also warn members that business does not believe the timing of certain “quarantine impositions” are either logical or implementable, particularly given the porous Border with the North.

“If the rules are inevitably going to be changed, then business must know when,” he says. “Uncertainty around the timing and application of rules will compound economic and social destruction,” Mr McCoy says.

“It impacts not just on business workplace planning but as critically on the social infrastructure that supports our socioeconomic activity,” he adds.

The business lobby has been a staunch critic of the Government’s phased approach to unwinding the lockdown, claiming it is too conservative and risks exacerbating the downturn.

It claims the Republic is now six to eight weeks behind other European states in lifting restrictions imposed to curtail the virus.

In his presentation to the committee, Mr McCoy also calls a €15 billion reboot of the Irish economy to curb the effects of coronavirus and address some of the State’s major structural challenges.

This will include enhanced spending on the National Development Plan (NDP) with the acceleration of several key projects.

“Significant measures will need to be taken to protect the livelihoods of both households and businesses, get people back into jobs and bring forward maintenance and investment projects from an extended capital plan,” he says.

Costed measures

The group has previously published a costed list of policy measures it wants the incoming government to sign up to.

They involve new measures worth about €15 billion, in addition to supports already announced by Government.

They include an exemption of 2020 commercial rates for businesses; the reintroduction of the reduced 9 per cent VAT rate for the hospitality sector; and the fast-tracking of certain infrastructural projects in the National Development Plan.

“For now the immediate actions required from Government are as follows: removal of the quarantine restrictions; replacement of the 2m social distancing to a 1m requirement; extensive and systematic Covid track-and-trace programme,” Mr McCoy will tell the committee.

Many businesses, particularly in the pub and restaurant sector, say the 2m rule is unworkable and would run them out of business.