Finance Minister Pascal Donohoe has said a Central Bank forecast predicting a €22bn hole in Irish finances this year “confirmed what business already know”.
“In the darkest of days, these changes would have taken a year to happen – it has happened in just days.
“What I’m trying to put in place is a recovery that is different to where we were before. There are so many social needs that existed before Covid-19 and I am determined that as we build a new economy, those needs are remembered and acted on.
“As great a challenge as Covid-19 is, it does not take the place of the social needs people had before this. I absolutely understand the anxiety that is out there.”
Meanwhile, a decision on ending restrictions on movement across Ireland will be made at the end of next week.
The current restrictions are in place until April 12, but will only be lifted if health professionals are confident that Ireland has controlled the outbreak of Covid-19.
At the government’s daily briefing on the disease, Assistant Secretary General at the Department of the Taoiseach Liz Canavan reiterated that it will be towards the end of next week before the Government can give an update on restrictions.
"That will depend on how things are going in terms of new cases, ICU admissions etc. It will be the National Public Health Emergency Team who advise us as to whether we should extend those restrictions or relax or refine them," she said.
“We are coming to the weekend and the end of the first week of the new restrictions. Let’s keep it going in terms of everything you are doing. It is making a difference and we need to keep it up until the CMO tells us otherwise."
Both Ms Canavan and Mr Donohoe urged students set to take their State exams to continue to plan as though the exams will take place.
The Minister for Education and Skills and the State Examinations Commission are working on contingency plans to allow the State Examinations to go ahead.
"Any final decision will be based on the public health advice and on what the Government decides in relation to current restrictions."
Mr Donohoe was at Government Buildings with his cabinet colleague, Arts and Culture Minister Josepha Madigan who announced measures to support Ireland’s arts industry during the crisis.
The measures include a €1m million scheme aimed at supporting Irish and Irish-based professional artists to create new works, a reimagined Fleadh Ceoil in partnership with TG4 and a national “Shine A Light” movement, which will take place on Easter Saturday.
The initiative was created by RTÉ and invites the public to shine a light for frontline workers, healthcare staff and those who have fallen ill to the virus already.
A light will be shone on public buildings and on Irish embassies and peacekeeping posts all around the world.
Ms Madigan said the initiative reflected Ireland’s ability to “shine a light in a dark world”.
We are asking everyone to shine a light for those who are sick and those who have lost their lives, to remind us that love and hope are always with us.
“Shine a light for our frontline staff, our healthcare workers, the people who are keeping us going through these dark times.
“I’m inviting everyone to join in and be the light in the darkness. Let’s shine a light together for those that we live. Shine a light for whoever is in your heart.”