Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has said people need to “exercise discretion and restraint” over the Christmas period to minimise further Covid-19 health risks, which in turn will “profoundly influence what 2021 looks like”.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Donohoe said it was “so tremendous” that so many businesses could reopen today, and to see so many go back to work was essential.
He said it was “equally essential” however that when out in restaurants, people need to respect the livelihoods and health of those working there to ensure safety.
“We have to exercise discretion; we have to in truth exercise restraint to ensure that across this period we don’t create further health risks for ourselves and for those who are looking after us when you’re out having a meal, or you’re out with your family,” Mr Donohoe said.
“So it’s so important that we try to keep the balance right across the Christmas period because in turn it will influence profoundly what 2021 looks like.”
Speaking on the reopening of the hospitality sector today, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe says: “It’s so important that we try to keep the balance right across the Christmas period”
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) December 4, 2020
Asked about cases of some outlets not reopening due to safety precautions, Mr Donohoe said he could not comment on individual businesses, but he understood the decisions some owners were making were “very tough”.
Mr Donohoe said the Covid Restriction Support Scheme payment was “only available to businesses that have to be closed”.
He said there was an important equity and use of taxpayers money issue he had to be aware of.
He said the CRSS payment allows for businesses that are required to close due to public health guidance to receive a payment per week of up to €5,000 from revenue depending on their normal turnover.
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Mr Donohoe said for businesses which are not able to open up due to restrictions across the last two weeks of this month and the first week of January, there will also be an additional payment to support them.
He said this being done because continues to be a very difficult period for businesses which cannot currently reopen.
Mr Donohoe said in general, if a business decides they do not want to reopen, if they still meet certain criteria, they will still be able to access other provisions such as the rates waiver and the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme payment.
A decision on the PUP will be made in 2021 “when we are clear with our vaccination programme”, says Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) December 4, 2020
Last night,  Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan described the gains made during the Level 5 restrictions as fragile and said he is worried.
There has already been a small deterioration in recent days and the easing of case numbers next week – predicted only last weekend – is no longer expected.
New modelling for the National Public Health Emergency Team suggests that if people drop their guard over Christmas case numbers could be as high 1,200 per day by mid-January.
But Dr Holohan said that this is not a forecast, nor is it inevitable.
He said it is within our own capacity to be individually responsible about social contacts and keep the virus in check over the coming weeks.

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