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Decision due soon on extending Covid-19 unemployment payment, says Finance Minister

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has said the Government will shortly decide on how long the pandemic unemployment payment will continue.

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Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe during a finance briefing outside Government Buildings, Dublin (PA)

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe during a finance briefing outside Government Buildings, Dublin (PA)

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe during a finance briefing outside Government Buildings, Dublin (PA)

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has said the Government will make a decision soon on how long the emergency pandemic unemployment payment will continue.

The 350 euro weekly payment was first introduced in March and is due to expire in June.

Asked about plans to extend the payment beyond June, Mr Donohoe said he knew the money was important for families and the Government was looking at the period and what amounts would be paid.

Speaking at Government buildings on Tuesday, he said: “We know these payments are important and they will continue for a period of time but we just have to decide over what period and at what level.

“We are only a few days into the re-opening of the economy and we just need some information to become available to us as to how the re-opening of the economy affects people on the wage subsidy scheme and the number of people availing of the PUP.

“We hope to have more data available to make a decision about those two issues soon and we will then make an announcement regarding the value of these payments and what is going to happen them.”

Earlier Ireland’s deputy chief medical officer warned the public will be living with the Covid-19 health crisis for the “foreseeable future”.

Dr Ronan Glynn said it is difficult to say whether it will last months or years.

He added that, while there is no vaccine for Covid-19, there is cause for optimism following an “unprecedented level” of research and activity in the development of a vaccine.

“Notwithstanding the very good success we’ve had in the past number of weeks and months and notwithstanding the actions of people across Ireland and across society have saved a very significant amount of lives,” he told RTE’s Morning Ireland.

“Unfortunately we still don’t have the treatment, we don’t have a vaccine, we don’t have a rapid test and, until those things are developed and brought out in a mass way that can be used across the population, we will be living with this for the foreseeable future.

“Whether that’s months or years is difficult to say at this point.

“I think we are living in the new normal and, as we now set out to ease restrictions, it is very important that people continue to practise what I hope become normal habits for them over the past number of months, including hand-washing, respiratory etiquette and social distancing.”

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(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

Press Association Images

(PA Graphics)

The first phase of trials for vaccines started in March, with more than 23,000 scientific papers published on Covid-19 so far.

“Given that we didn’t know about this virus in December, it really is unprecedented that the speed of this is happening, and that reflects research across the entire continuum of Covid,” Dr Glynn added.

“The typical length of time for a vaccine to be developed is between 10 and 15 years.

“The fastest vaccine that’s ever been developed was one for Ebola and that took between four and five years.

“I’m not saying that it’s going to take that long, but I think we do need to exercise caution when we hear some reports that we could potentially have a vaccine that will be available as soon as the end of the summer.

“Even if we do have a vaccine that’s safe and effective and produces immunity for a sustained period of time, it still needs to be produced on a massive scale because every country in the world will want this vaccine at the same time.”

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(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

Press Association Images

(PA Graphics)

On Monday, the coronavirus death toll in Ireland rose to 1,547 after a further four deaths were announced by the National Public Health Emergency Team.

There were another 88 confirmed cases of Covid-19, taking the total in Ireland since the outbreak began to 24,200.

PA