Coronavirus: Slight fall in number receiving emergency payment

Warning issued over scam texts purporting to be from Department of Social Protection

A memo for the Cabinet meeting says the temporary wage subsidy scheme and the unemployment payment will remain in place until the end of August. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

A memo for the Cabinet meeting says the temporary wage subsidy scheme and the unemployment payment will remain in place until the end of August. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

There has been a slight fall in the number of people receiving the emergency pandemic payment of €350 per week.

The number who received the payment in the past week was 589,000, a decrease of 9,000 on the previous week.

The figure reflects the first signs of restrictions being eased for certain categories of worker and this figure is expected to drop sharply after May 18th when the Government’s back to work protocols begin to take effect.

At the daily briefing in Government buildings, it was disclosed that the weekly cost to the State of the emergency payment is €206 million.

The briefing also heard that 53,200 employers have registered for the temporary wage subsidy scheme, with a total of 456,200 employees being assisted.

The cumulative value of the scheme is creeping towards €1 billion. It now stands at €878 million and Revenue will generate €13 million in payments.

Elizabeth Canavan of the Department of the Taoiseach also warned of a fraud scam where people were receiving texts purporting to come from the Department of Social Protection.

She said the message related to Covid-19 payments and recipients were asked to click on a link to apply.

However, she said this text did not come from Government and warned people not to click on the link.

Meanwhile, Minister for Business Heather Humphreys has indicated businesses in Irelandcould reopen more quickly than expected under the roadmap set out in the Government, if the spread of Covid-19 continues to slow.

In an interview on Monday on The Irish Times Confronting Coronavirus podcast, Ms Humphreys said figures showing a slower spread of the illness were encouraging and could expedite the roadmap setting out the timetable for the reopening of the economy, if the trend continues.

“We saw from the figures this week that we are continuing flattening the curve,” said Ms Humphreys.

“If that trend continues we can begin to reopen the economy in line with the roadmap, if not more quickly.”

However, she said: “If the figures go against us and they go up again we may have to reintroduce restrictions.”

Flexibility

Pressed by presenter Deirdre Veldon on the reopening schedule, especially for small businesses like hairdressers and public houses, which will among the last to reopen, Ms Humphreys said: “If we do well on the figures and if we manage to reduce the amount of people who are contracting the virus there is flexibility in the roadmap to allow them open more quickly.

“Again, we will have to be guided by public health advice but certainly the flexibility is there in the public health road map,” she said.

The number of people who have died of coronavirus in the State increased by 12 on Sunday, bringing the total number of deaths to 1,458. The number of confirmed cases in the republic increased by 236, to 22,996.

Figures released by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) show that as of midnight on Friday, females account for 57.3 per cent of the cases and males 42.5 per cent, with the remainder unknown.

Of the hospitalised cases, 383 have been admitted to intensive care. A total of 6,771 cases are associated with healthcare workers. Dublin has the highest number of cases at 11,068 (49 per cent of the total), followed by Kildare, with 6 per cent (1,324) and then Cork, with 1,207 cases (5 per cent).

For cases where transmission status is known, community transmission accounts for 61 per cent, close contact accounts for 36 per cent and travel abroad for 3 per cent.

The latest figure from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) indicate the rate of growth in infected cases is holding steady at about 1 per cent per day, with Sunday’s growth slightly above that level.

HSE chief executive Paul Reid said testing capacity in the State is now at 15,000 per day. He said the turnaround time for tests is 2.4 days on average, and that there are 3,010 healthcare workers currently on Covid-19 related leave.

Tie-up scheme

On Monday, the Government also announced the details of a new tie-up scheme for the fishing fleet arising from the collapse of markets for the industry.

Under the scheme both inshore trawlers and larger fishing boats will be given the option of tying up for one or two months starting from June 1st.

Ms Canavan said the scheme was in response to the closure of many markets to the Irish fishing industries and disruption to normal distribution channels, particularly of restaurants in Ireland and abroad.

That has led to a sharp fall in both market demand and also in a drop in sale prices.

“The scheme gives (fishermen) an option to match supply (with demand). There is a voluntary option to tie up for one or two of the next three months. It will be operational from June 1st,” she said.