Thursday, 18 February 2021
Covid-19 (Enterprise, Trade and Employment): Statements
First, I welcome the Tánaiste's comments on Aer Lingus. I think he will accept that most employees on the support schemes and who are sitting at home will take his comments literally when he states that Aer Lingus will not be allowed to fail.
The past 12 months have been a particularly punishing time for business, which I know the Tánaiste and all Members of the House accept. It is acutely important that we also recognise that the pandemic has not just had a catastrophic effect on our businesses and the Exchequer but also on the mental health and well-being of employees, regardless of age, skill or sector. Throughout this pandemic, we have been committed to supporting enterprise through the various schemes. In fact, a cursory glance at the Department's website shows four pages of schemes, grants and loans that are available to businesses or have been over the past 12 months.
Specifically, I want to focus on the hospitality sector. As the Minister is aware, quite a number of businesses, including restaurants, pubs, etc. have not been able to trade for a sustained period of time over the past 12 months. The Minister has mentioned the CRSS, the details of which have recently been announced. However, I must ask whether supports might be available in respect of the restart grant. Also, on the interesting point made by a Deputy about businesses, especially restaurants, that want to set up a temporary vehicle-based business, I ask whether supports will be available for them through the Minister's Department.
The other question I have to ask concerns the working from home options, which I know our colleague, Senator Currie, has made much of over recent months. There are initiatives there, but I would be very interested to hear whether supports will be available to employers to help them support their own employees in making as much as they can of working from home as a policy rather than returning to office-based work once the pandemic lifts from these shores.