Tourism chiefs: Defer Vat payment next week to keep firms going in Covid-19 crisis

Irish business and trade union leaders said they stand ready to work with government in a national effort to face down the Covid-19 crisis, but warn that they need more help to prevent firms from going under.

Additional reporting: Áine Kenny

Irish business and trade union leaders said they stand ready to work with government in a national effort to face down the Covid-19 crisis, but warn that they need more help to prevent firms from going under.

Chambers Ireland, in a joint release with government, trade unions and other business groups, pledged their part in an "unprecedented national effort" to offset the looming economic damage from the coronavirus.

But the tourism industry which says it is already in the front line as summer booking are cancelled by overseas visitors and demand for restaurants slides has called on the authorities to do more by deferring the Vat payment which falls due next week.

Tourism firms are facing cash-flow problems amid "the very unprecedented" conditions as summer booking dry up, said Eoghan O’Mara Walsh, chief executive at the business group, the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation, which brings together both private firms and the government tourism agencies, north and south.

"We are making a call to defer the Vat payment" because the crisis is worse than the Sars and foot and mouth," Mr O’’Mara WAlsh said, citing the closure of the Book of Kells exhibition in Dublin as evidence of the scale of the crisis.

“Hotels and guesthouses are facing an unprecedented challenge,” said Elaina Fitzgerald, president at the Irish Hotels Federation, “and managing cashflow over the next few weeks will be the difference between staying in business and not”.

Epic, the Irish Emigration Museum in Dublin, said it continues to keep its doors open. In Cork, publican and restauranteur Ernest Cantillon said that hospitality businesses are rapidly losing revenue, as Covid-19 forces customers to cancel bookings.

Stock markets tumbled again as investors ignored the Bank of England’’s rate cut -- the latest action by a major central bank -- and the measures in the UK budget designed to mitigate the damage faces by the British economy.

Markets focussed instead on the official designation by the World Health Organisation of Covid-19 as a pandemic, and also expected little of significance to emerge from the ECB meeting later on Thursday, if only because the central bank has little ammunition left to fight this crisis.

Capital Economics in London said the coronavirus "poses a significant risk to eurozone banks", as "a much deeper recession may well force banks to reduce their lending and governments to once again come to their rescue".

"One crumb of comfort is that the banking system is much better able to absorb losses than it was in 2007 or 2011," the economists said.

In Germany, a number of leading economists called on Berlin to provide more help.

Global stock markets resumed their falls with Wall Street opening sharply lower and the Ftse-100 in London ending 1.4% lower and the Euro Stoxx-50 of leading eurozone shares slipping a further 0.4%.

"It is another down day on Wall Street, with the Dow off by around 1000 points in the opening hours of trading, while UK markets have been unenthused by the chancellor’s budget," said Chris Beauchamp, chief market analyst at online broker IG.

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department - if this is not possible, phone 112 or 999 and in a medical emergency (if you have severe symptoms) phone 112 or 999

Coronavirus in brief

  • A female patient with an underlying illness who contracted Covid-19
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    has died in the east of the country
  • The 10 new Covid-19 cases confirmed in Ireland last night brought the total up to 34 cases
  • There are now 50 cases on the island of Ireland - 34 here, 16 in the North
  • Schools told
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    not to close unless instructed by Department
  • A teacher in Cork secondary school is in
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    self-isolation after coming in close contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19
  • Republic of Ireland's Euro 2020 play-off
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    to be played behind closed doors. The Women's qualifier
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    in Montenegro also closed to the public
  • Ryanair and Aer Lingus cancel flights to Italy

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