More Covid supports for businesses, and why economists hate Christmas presents

Business Today: the best news, analysis and comment from The Irish Times business desk

The Government has agreed to reimpose Level 5 restrictions, with some modifications, due to the rising numbers of Covid-19 cases. Non-essential retail will be permitted to stay open, but shops will be asked not to hold sales. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

The Government has agreed to reimpose Level 5 restrictions, with some modifications, due to the rising numbers of Covid-19 cases. Non-essential retail will be permitted to stay open, but shops will be asked not to hold sales. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill / The Irish Times

 

The country was left reeling yesterday after Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced the re-imposition of Level 5 restrictions after Christmas. You can read reaction from retailers, publicans, hairdressers and other businesses as part of our extensive coverage of the latest developments in the fight against Covid-19 on irishtimes.com/coronavirus.

In somewhat positive news, Ireland’s Covid-19 vaccine programme could be “substantially” completed by next autumn, allowing the economy to begin returning to a normalised state, the Taoiseach told The Irish Times. Speaking to Ciarán Hancock on the Inside Business podcast last night, Mr Martin also said the Government was looking at extending and possibly expanding a number of financial supports to businesses and individuals impacted by the latest Covid-19 restrictions in a bid to help them survive the next lockdown. Listen to the full podcast here.

The Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine being distributed in Ireland and across the EU is likely to be effective against the new mutation detected in the UK - or can be adapted quickly, according to BioNTech chief executive Ugur Sahin. Derek Scally reports.

In non-Covid news, public liability insurance premiums have jumped by an average of between 15 and 20 per cent in each of the past three years, with a lack of data on the market serving as a barrier to new entrants, according to a report published by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission this morning. Joe Brennan has the details.

The Dry, a six-part comedy drama made by Element Pictures for RTÉ One, received the highest funding award under the latest round of the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland Sound and Vision scheme. Laura Slattery reports on the ¤6.2 million fund announced by the BAI yesterday.

The shirt is lovely but does not fit; the toys would have been cool three years ago; the book is so perfectly chosen that in fact the recipient read it over the summer... Will this year be the one when we realise what’s truly important to us, and finally have an epiphany about the wastefulness of Christmas presents? Economist Tim Harford hopes so.

And finally, for some festive fun... Have you been paying attention to The Irish Times Business coverage this year? Test your brains with Ciarán Hancock’s Christmas Business Quiz, and be in with a chance to win a luxurious break away at The Imperial Hotel, The Heritage or The River Lee hotels - when current Covid-19 restrictions finally lift, of course.