Employers have warned Taoiseach Leo Varadkar that the Government must focus on saving livelihoods as the economic fallout from Covid-19 deepens.
Danny McCoy, chief executive of employers’ body Ibec, has written to Mr Varadkar calling on him to accelerate the lifting of the pandemic lockdown to allow most businesses open before the end of June.
“The scale of risk has now swung towards the saving of livelihoods as the economic crisis from the suppression of activity continues to deepen,” Mr McCoy says.
He argues that the first phase of the reopening of businesses, begun last week, demonstrated that they can operate safely and in line with the overall national response.
“Many more distressed businesses are braced for reopening so that they can assess the scale of difficulties and the necessary restructuring required,” Mr McCoy points out. He says the Government should bring forward the reopening’s remaining phases to allow businesses to restart next month.
He also recommends that the Government should halve the social distancing rule to 1m from 2m.
“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 joins Ryanair Holdings chief executive Michael O'Leary in criticising proposals to impose a 14-day quarantine on travellers from abroad. He calls it "neither logical nor implementable" and an unnecessary barrier to recovery as it meant the Republic and UK were taking different approaches to their common travel area.
The Ibec chief also noted that the Republic is reopening at a more conservative pace than other EU states.
“Nobody knows whether this will be the right decision in the long run but one thing can be stated with certainty: the length of the lockdown will help determine the scale of the fall in economic activity,” he says.