Following an online meeting of CEOs of Chambers from across the country, Chambers Ireland calls for a focused effort by all over the remaining two weeks to reduce the spread of Covid-19, contain outbreaks and reduce the R number.
Speaking today Chambers Ireland Chief Executive Ian Talbot said, “We urge the wider business community to continue to interpret the restrictions conservatively and ensure that any unnecessary congregation is reduced. If staff can work from home, then that is the only place they should be working from. Employers must continue to do what they can to both encourage and support their employees to work remotely.
In addition, we call on the wider community to work with us, reduce your movements and limit social contacts. The Christmas season is essential for local economies and for societal well-being. Without this opportunity to trade, many businesses will struggle to re-open at all, leaving our high streets and town centres all the poorer and jobs permanently lost. Irish people have rallied behind the “shop local” message. We’re calling on society to think local and ensure we’re all playing our part to support local economies to re-open at the end of the Level Five restrictions on 2 December.
Finally, we know that Government is reviewing the data from NPHET over the coming week and determining its next steps. We await this decision, and welcome early engagement and collaboration with Chambers across the country to suitably prepare businesses for resuming trading. However, we are concerned about the lack of an exit strategy that avoids recurrent waves of opening and closing the economy.
We have repeatedly warned that the worst-case scenario for local economies and the business community would be to enter a series of sawtooth lockdowns and re-openings. This sort of scenario contributes to significant additional costs on businesses associated with reopening and restocking. With limited capital reserves, and no appetite for new debt under such uncertainty, many businesses may not be able to continue trading after a further round of closures.
Government must ensure that over the coming days and weeks, sufficient resources be made available to the public health authorities to create an effective programme to test, trace and isolate new cases. This must be coupled with local interventions to limit the impact of future outbreaks, and the development of capacity within the health service to cope with increased demands on our critical care services.”