Can we beat Covid-19 without wrecking the economy?

Smart Money: We need to decide which businesses need to close at Levels 4 and 5

People queueing outside a Smyths toy store in Dublin earlier this week, as debate raged over a possible move to Level 5 restrictions. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

People queueing outside a Smyths toy store in Dublin earlier this week, as debate raged over a possible move to Level 5 restrictions. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Usually speculation in the week before the budget is all about who will get what. But these aren’t normal times. In the wake of the row between the Government and the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) about whether the State should be moved to Level 5 – shutting down large parts of the economy – there is no doubt that the issue of further restriction are back on the agenda. Maybe this is where we are heading – but the way restrictions are managed will be vital. And there is a strong case for urgent discussions and analysis of the data to try to clarify which businesses need to close if we do go to Level 4 or 5, as the existing plans would see a much heavier hit on businesses and jobs in the Republic than pretty much anywhere else in Europe.

1. Does everything need to close if restrictions go up to Level 4 or 5?

In economic terms the move from Level 3 to Level 4 is the key one, if the Government’s current plan is followed. Some recent commentary to the effect that Level 4 would spare many SMEs is simply incorrect. The Government guidelines clearly state that under Level 4 “only businesses and services which are essential will be open”.

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