| 15.3°C Belfast

...while it may sink a lot of businesses

Richard Curran

The Republic of Ireland's government will have to move from containment to compensation pretty quickly as the economic cost of the coronavirus spreads. It will be an expensive and difficult mess for any new government that may emerge in the weeks ahead.

As the number of confirmed cases in Ireland increases, the corporate problems associated with controlling the spread through workplaces around the country are growing.

Workers who have employment contracts can at least rely on what it says in their contract regarding time off work. Those in more precarious low-paid work, who do not have traditional employment contracts, could find themselves in more serious financial straits.

The whole situation gets a lot more complicated where people are told they must self-isolate or work for home, even when there isn't anything wrong with them.

With a number of schools now closing for two weeks, parents may need to take time off work to mind their children and the question of getting paid enters a whole grey area.

Separately, Orlaigh Quinn, secretary-general of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, said the department was looking at financial supports for companies affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Irish companies importing and exporting face potential disruptions to their supply and sales chains because of cross-border travel restrictions and lockdowns to prevent the spread of the virus.

It is difficult to see how such a compensation scheme might operate.

Some firms, depending on their sector, may even be covered by insurance policies, but that might be like getting blood from a stone, depending on the small print.

The kind of measures being talked about on Brexit were soft loans to get through cash-flow issues.

If the coronavirus really does kick off here, it could sink a lot of businesses which would need more than loans expected to be paid back in the future.

Belfast Telegraph