Written answers

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment

Covid-19 Pandemic

Photo of Louise O'ReillyLouise O'Reilly (Dublin Fingal, Sinn Fein)
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21. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if he will meet individually with representatives of associations (details supplied) regarding the impact of Covid-19 and the public health restrictions on the pub and restaurant sector. [29940/21]

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael)
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The Government announced a new Economic Recovery Plan this week, with €3.5 billion of stimulus to fuel the economy and help businesses to recover and rebuild. Across 2020 and 2021, €38 billion was provided to help our people and businesses cope with the pandemic.

There will be a number of changes to the current financial assistance as public health restrictions unwind.

- The Covid-19 Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) and the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) are being extended until the end of 2021.

- The commercial rates waiver will continue in its current form during the third quarter of this year.  

- The 9% VAT rate will be extended until the 1 September, 2022.

- Tax warehousing is being extended until the end of the year and will be interest free in 2022.

- A new additional, more streamlined business assistance scheme, the Business Resumption Support Scheme (BRSS) will be introduced in September 2021 for businesses with very significantly reduced turnover as a result of public health restrictions.

Work is ongoing across Government to ensure the supports which will be in place are sufficient, targeted and sustainable. The National Economic Recovery Plan charts the pathway forward for our country, not only to recover economically but to create a new, better normal.

I meet with the Vintners Federation of Ireland, the Licensed Vintners Association and the Restaurants Association of Ireland on an ongoing basis through the Hospitality and Tourism Forum, which I jointly chair with Minister Catherine Martin. The forum met again yesterday to discuss the reopening of the economy and the Economic Recovery Plan. In addition, Minister Donohoe, Minister Martin and I met with the LVI, the VFI, the Restaurants Association and the Irish Hotels Federation on 15 January 2021 last.

At each point of closing or re-opening of the economy due to COVID-19 I have met with a group of relevant stakeholders, including these three associations, to update them on latest Government developments and answer questions.

I am open to meeting with the associations individually if such a meeting is requested.

My colleague, Minister Catherine Martin T.D., Minister for Tourism, Arts, Culture, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, may be able to provide more specific details on supports for the hospitality sector, for which she has lead responsibility.

Photo of Aodhán Ó RíordáinAodhán Ó Ríordáin (Dublin Bay North, Labour)
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22. To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment the way his Department plans to address the concerns articulated by employers and trade unions regarding the rights and responsibilities for employers relating to unvaccinated staff to keep their workplaces and customers safe particularly in smaller enterprises. [30031/21]

Photo of Damien EnglishDamien English (Meath West, Fine Gael)
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I want to firstly acknowledge that Ireland is in the recovery phase of our response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The vaccination roll-out is essential to this recovery and to the re-opening of society and the economy. Our vaccination programme is very successful to-date with over 2.5million doses administered at this point. As stated at the launch of the recently revised Work Safely Protocol, vaccine hesitancy has not yet emerged as a problem in Ireland. 

The Work Safely Protocol sets out guidance for employers around vaccinations, this is contained in section D14 of the Protocol.  Fundamentally, the decision to get a vaccination against COVID-19 is voluntary and workers will therefore make their own individual decisions in this regard. There are no plans to make vaccinations mandatory in Ireland. However, employers working together with their workers and their representatives, may wish to provide advice and information on the vaccination programme, to ensure that any worker with a hesitancy has the necessary information to make an informed decision. Communication between employers and employees will be important to identify any potential problems. For example, an employer might decide that an employee who is not vaccinated should not be assigned a customer facing role and that, in these circumstances, they should be redeployed with agreement to another position within the organisation.

The vast majority of employers and employees are anxious to get back to work and appreciate that having a significant cohort of the population vaccinated is a positive development for the post pandemic recovery.

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