Boating and fishing no longer allowed in large parks and reserves
Liz Canavan provided updates at Wednesday’s government Covid-19 briefing
Liz Canavan, assistant secretary to the Department of An Taoiseach, during a media briefing at Government Buildings, Dublin. Photograph: Collins
Access to the lakes of Killarney has been restricted amid concerns that those boating, fishing and kayaking could place additional strain on emergency services.
At the government’s morning Covid-19 briefing, assistant secretary general of the Department of Taoiseach, Liz Canavan said boating and fishing will no longer be allowed in large parks and reserves.
“Efforts have been made to ensure that insofar as possible national parks and nature reserves remain open and accessible to local residents to allow them to exercise and get some fresh air,” Ms Canavan said.
“In general most people are doing this in compliance with the vital public health guidance around social distancing and within the stipulated 2km. In order to ensure that people continue to use these parks safely and in compliance with public health guidelines there are limits to what activities are allowed at this time.
“We want to be clear that all access to the lakes of Killarney, be it for boating, kayaking or fishing is currently restricted. We know these are valuable pastimes but we need to consider the broader impact of our activities at this time and ensure that we do not place any additional strain on the emergency services at this time of crisis.”
Meanwhile some 43,400 employers have applied for the government’s temporary Covid-19 wage subsidy scheme.
The government introduced the temporary wage subsidy to enable employers to keep staff on their payroll during the pandemic by refunding 70 per cent of an employees take home pay up until a maximum of €410 per week.
Employees affected by Covid-19 pandemic can also apply for a pandemic unemployment payment.
Ms Canavan said there are 27,300 people who are medically certified to meet conditions for receipt of the Covid-19 enhanced illness benefit payment which is €350 per week. While GPs have submitted documentation for those people, around 10,000 of them have yet to submit an accompanying application which is also needed.
In order to qualify for the payment, a person must be diagnosed with Covid-19 or be medically certified by a doctor who has advised a patient to go into isolation.
Ms Canavan also said the government is reviewing payments for contractors who are signed up to provide school transport given recent closures. Some parents have also sought refunds on their yearly payments to the scheme.
“We are aware that queries have been raised in relation to school transport refunds in light of further extensions to school closures,” Ms Canavan said.
“This situation is being reviewed and decisions will be made once we know the full impact in terms of closures in the current school year. With regards to school bus contractors operating on the school transport scheme, they were paid their normal rates following the initial announcement that schools be closed in light of the exceptional circumstances. When closures were extended through the Easter holidays they were paid 50 per cent for the week leading up to the beginning of the holidays which is in line with normal unexpected closures.
“The Easter holiday period would have extended top April 17 and decisions around further arrangements will be subject to review at that stage.”
In terms of supply chain continuity of the delivery and distribution of goods, Ms Canavan also confirmed that the Road Safety Authority and Department of Transport have agreed to a further relaxation of EU driving and resting times rules. This will apply for heavy goods vehicle operators and drivers.
Meanwhile internet providers have signed up to a new charter which will allow customers to make affordable arrangements to upgrade their plans.
Those who have limitations on usage and access will now have an opportunity to make the upgrades to higher or unlimited rates.
“Every effort will be made to ensure that people are not restricted in their internet usage and measures will be taken to manage traffic and ensure networks do not become congested,” Ms Canavan said.
Access to healthcare and educational resource websites identified by the government will be “zero rated” for customers.