The pandemic unemployment payment (PUP) is likely to be extended as the number of daily Covid-19 cases across Ireland could soar to 1,000 in a month if the progress of the virus remains unchanged, it has been claimed.
As the numbers continue to wreak havoc on the economy, senior Government sources have indicated the new three rates of the PUP (€300, €250, and €203) could be extended past February, when it is due to be reduced to two rates, and beyond April, when it is due to be phased out entirely.
The news comes as Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the rise in Covid-19 cases in Donegal, Louth, and Waterford is a “cause for concern” and is being “monitored closely”.
Amid growing speculation that the three counties will move to a higher level of restrictions, Mr Martin said a move from level two to level three would be “a significant move” and not done lightly.
Liz Canavan, of the Department of the Taoiseach, said the profile of the disease in Dublin is at an "extremely critical juncture".
She warned up to 60% of these daily cases could be in the capital.
Dublin is facing stricter health measures, including a ban on indoor social gatherings and a requirement for pubs and restaurants to only serve food outdoors, while travel in and out of the county has been limited to work, education, and essential purposes.
Ms Canavan said the measures in level three of the Covid-19 five-tier response plan are targeted specifically at reducing the level of social contacts and congregation.
She told a Covid-19 briefing: "If the current progress of the virus remains unchanged, based on the modelling available to us, we believe there will be between 500 and 1,000 cases per day in a month's time, 50% to 60% of which will be in Dublin.
"The Government took the decision to place the entire county of Dublin on level three of the framework.
"This action was based on a review of the public health advice and in response to the deteriorating situation of the virus in Dublin.
"The decision has been taken to protect our priorities. We must protect the most vulnerable, resume non-Covid health and social care, and maintain educational activities.
"These choices are incredibly difficult to make but the situation is such that we have to be decisive."
The restrictions in Dublin will be in place until October 9.
It will then be reviewed by the Government based on the state of the virus.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet is set to approve the extension of the term of office of the chief of staff of the Defence Forces, Mark Mellett, sources have said.
The Cabinet will also be asked to approve the text of a Forestry Bill which aims to reform, as a matter of urgency, the way appeals against forestry licences are processed. The bill will allow the appeals body, the Forest Appeals Commission, to increase in size, hear appeals in subdivisions of itself so that more than one appeal can be heard at a time, and determine appeals without an oral hearing where that is deemed appropriate.