Small and micro businesses will be able to avail of up to €10,000 grant aid to help them reopen under a new scheme announced by government.
The €250m Restart Grant can be claimed by businesses who have a turnover of less than €5m, have 50 or fewer staff and have either closed or lost 25% of their turnover since the outbreak of Covid-19.
Businesses can receive a minimum or €2,000 and a maximum of €10,000, equivalent to their council rates bill.
The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation said that the grants can be used to defray ongoing fixed costs, for replenishing stock and for measures needed to ensure employee and customer safety.
To avail of the grant, businesses must commit to remaining open or reopen if they have been closed as well as declare their intention to keep on staff who are on the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme and remploy staff who are on the Pandemic Unemployment Payment.
Business Minister Heather Humphreys said that the grant was "designed to help small businesses get back on their feet".
“Small businesses, whether it be the local hairdresser, café or clothes shop, are absolutely vital to the social fabric of our towns and villages throughout the country," she said.
However, lobby group Isme accused the government of "retreating into its cocoon". Its CEO Neil McDonnell said that companies needed liquidity and not more debt.
"If we fail the SME sector and allow a large number to go out of business, the pain down the road for the Exchequer and our public servants will be severe. Government must engage with the SME sector, and start to address its needs, quickly," he said.
Minister Humphreys also reiterated the Government’s commitment to pharmaceutical firms here as output from that sector boosted exports in March. According to the CSO, the value of Irish goods exports jumped by 38%, month-on-month, to nearly €16bn in March, and surged 13% year-on-year to just over €42bn in the first quarter.
However, latest figures - showing the eurozone economy fell at a record rate in the first quarter of the year - show the challenge ahead.