Reopening economy 'won't be like flicking a lightswitch', says minister

Business Minister Heather Humphreys says that women who were due to return from maternity leave but cannot will be entitled to the €350 pandemic unemployment payment.
Reopening economy 'won't be like flicking a lightswitch', says minister

Business Minister Heather Humphreys says that women who were due to return from maternity leave but cannot will be entitled to the €350 pandemic unemployment payment.

Taking questions in Dáil, Minister Humphreys responded to a question from Green Party TD Steven Matthews who said there seemed to be an anomaly in the payment.

Minister Humphreys said that workers should first liaise with their employer about the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme, but in situations where the woman's job is no longer available, they would be entitled to the payment.

Minister Humphreys said that the "world had changed and the Irish economic landscape with it" but added that the government would work to save viable businesses.

Minister Humphreys said that reopening the economy will take time and that it "won't be like flicking a lightswitch and everything returning to normal".

"Easing of restrictions and getting things back to normal are on the mind of many people and indeed to the forefront of the minds of many business leaders.

"As the Taoiseach has said, the government continues to consider the broad range of public health, societal and economic impacts and options for lifting of restrictions.

"The lifting of restrictions will be gradual and will proceed over a number of months.

I want to assure workers and employers that this government is committed to doing everything that we reasonably can to save those businesses which are viable.

Ms Humphreys was pressed by a trio of Fianna Fáil TDs on specific reactions to the pandemic.

Robert Troy raised concerns that companies are still being required to pay public liability insurance while their premises were close.

Mr Troy also said that it was "deeply unfair" that garden centres and DIY shops were closed while supermarkets like Lidl and Aldi were selling similar products.

His colleague Niall Collins said it was "outrageous in the extreme" that some businesses who had paid premiums for business interuption insurance but were being denied payouts.

Indepdent TD Denis Naughten said it was vital that businesses be given guidelines on what they need to do to open.

Ms Humphreys said that such guidelines exist from the NSA and HSA.

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