51,707 more people have been paid the pandemic unemployment payment (PUP) this week as the economic impact of the country's move to Level 5 restrictions begins.
The Department of Social Protection paid 295,860 people the payment today at a cost of €85m to the state, an increase of €20m spent last week.
11,000 workers who were working in the accommodation and food sector have made a PUP claim since last week. The sector represents the highest number of people making a PUP claim at 90,051.
Wholesale and retail trade followed with 43,432 claimants and 25,656 workers in the administrative and support service sector also made a claim.
Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys said the latest figures reflect the economic impact of the decision to move to Level 5 and acknowledged the difficult time for families and businesses.
“This week’s figures reflect the economic impact of the decision to move to Level 5 of restrictions," said the Social Protection Minister. “I know this has been a really difficult few days, particularly for those who have temporarily lost their jobs or whose businesses have had to close.
"But I also know that we have it in us to suppress this virus and protect lives," she said.
PUP's highest earlier rate of €350 per week was restored after the government's decision to increase restrictions to Level 5. Now however instead of being a universal payment, it is rated to an applicant's previous income.
People earning less than €200 per week will continue to receive a rate of €203 per week, a higher rate of €250 per week is available for those previously earning €200 to €299.99, €300 per week is available for those earning between €300 to €399.99 prior to Level 5 restrictions, while those with prior weekly earnings of €400 or more will receive a rate of €350 per week.
The Department said existing PUP recipients who previously earned more than €400 per week have had their PUP rate automatically increased and have received the higher rate of €350 this week.
Despite the increase of restrictions to Level 5, nearly 3,000 people closed their PUP claims this week.
Minister HUmphreys urged the public to comply with public health guidelines in order to get the spread of the coronavirus pandemic back under control.
“So let’s redouble our efforts this week; Limit our contacts, work remotely where possible and stay within 5km of our home for exercise.
“This is in our gift. We have shown before that we can get this virus back under control and allow our economy to reopen again,” she said.