Chambers Ireland welcomes the first phase of lifting of Covid-19 restrictions that begin today.
Speaking last Friday, Chambers Ireland Chief Executive, Ian Talbot said, “It is with great relief that we can welcome the start of our society’s reopening, in the wake of this unprecedented economic lockdown.
As we take our first steps along the road to recovery we should be immensely grateful for the efforts of all those who have worked so hard over the last two months to minimise the impact of this disease on our people; the doctors, the nurses, the healthcare assistants and the allied health healthcare professionals who have contracted this disease far more frequently than any other group in our society.
And we have to think about how hard this has been on the thousands of people who have lost a family member over the last few weeks, both those who died of Covid-19 and those who were lost for other reasons but whose families missed out on the funerals which are so deeply embedded in how we process grief.
And of course, there’s personal impact that each of us endures during these restrictions, having lost our freedom of movement, the comfort of friendship and family, those with disabilities have lost out on caring, while others have lost their employment. We have all suffered so that those who are most vulnerable to this disease received the treatment they needed.
For our business community, this reopening will be the beginning of the most difficult period yet.
We know that while many businesses will be able to reopen on Monday, many others will not. Even for those who can open in Phase One, for many reopening will take time.
Restocking will have to happen – our logistic networks and supply lines have never experienced the kind of shock they have just received. Staffing problems will occur as people with conditions that make them vulnerable to the disease, or have dependents that still need to be cocooned or cared for, may no longer be able to work.
And then there is the concern that what is now a tolerable level of infection becomes a second wave that undoes all the efforts and sacrifices what we have endured over the last two months.
The worst-case scenario is that we see infection rates rise – too many become too sick too quickly and we end up having to go back down into lockdown. This graduated reopening of the economy that the government has outlined is both wise and necessary. To be over adventurous in relaxing these measures risks squandering what was so hard won.
Through our collective efforts we have made our lockdown a success; our challenge over the coming weeks will be to make the reawakening of our economy a success. The business community will need support in a way that it has never needed before as it struggles with circumstances that none of us could have planned for.
The Restart Grants for small businesses that Minister Humphreys announced today is exactly the kind of measure that will be critical for certain businesses if they are to be able to make this reawakening of the economy a success.
Our concern remains that the measures announced will require improvement, but in the interim we encourage all businesses to assess their eligibility and apply if they qualify. Other measures, such as wage supports, will need to continue too – we have seen in many European countries that even as businesses reopen, they do so with much lower volumes of trade.
As the Minister for Health has said, all the things we do in Phase One are done with risk associated. Good business involves taking risks in a measured, carefully managed fashion.”