Friday, 27 March 2020
An Bille um Bearta Éigeandála ar mhaithe le Leas an Phobail (Covid-19) 2020: Céim an Choiste agus na Céimeanna a bheidh Fágtha - Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (Covid-19) Bill 2020: Committee and Remaining Stages
To follow on from what my colleague said about commercial premise leases, I know a number of businesses have come under severe pressure to pay rent when they are closed. The Minister might agree with me and I echo his sentiment that we may be in a different environment for commercial leasing post-Covid-19. A lot of these landlords are from big organisations so maybe they should step back and question whether those people who have been loyal to them over the years as tenants will come back and have vibrant businesses again. However, if they drive them to the wall now by demanding rent, they will have nothing but empty premises when this comes to an end.
In the area of shops, this Government has done everything it can to advise businesses on what is and what is not essential. It cannot dot every "i" and cross every "t" and it cannot have a list of every single business in the country. I already made the point to the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deputy Coveney, that the likes of these storage boxes that people can rent are not an essential service. They do not need to be open and they are putting their staff at risk. I mention the companies that provide supplements for the fitness industry, for example. These are not foods, let us be honest about it. They are something that people do not need to get in order to survive. These organisations need to follow Government advice, stop putting their staff at risk and close their premises, as they have been asked to do.This Government has bent over backwards to try to protect the people but it has gone a stage further and tried to protect the earnings of people as well. It is most disingenuous of any business to try to force staff to come in on reduced hours purely to keep the doors open. I believe the Minister has the support of this House. I wish to God that the people who are ignoring some of the advice Government has given would also support the Government in the way they need to.