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Mary Lou McDonald calls for closure of non-essential businesses

The Sinn Fein leader said emergency measures to protect people need to be stepped up ‘very significantly’.

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Mary Lou McDonald (Aine McMahon/PA)

Mary Lou McDonald (Aine McMahon/PA)

Mary Lou McDonald (Aine McMahon/PA)

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald has called for all non-essential businesses to be closed to fight the spread of Covid-19.

Speaking at Leinster House on Monday, she said: “Delays costs lives.”

Ms McDonald made the comments before opposition leaders were briefed on the latest coronavirus information.

“We should not drag our heels now. Now is the moment to take the next step and that is to close all non-essential business,” she said.

“Of course that will mean more job losses. It will mean tens if not hundreds of thousands of temporary redundancies, so a proper and adequate support scheme needs to be put in place as a matter of urgency to ensure that workers and families can materially make it through this crisis.”

She said emergency measures to protect people need to be stepped up “very significantly”.

“We believe that we are at a point now where we need to move to the shutdown of all non-essential business,” she added.

“It is not plausible or credible to ask people to practise physical distancing in their families, homes or social life – as we saw at the weekend with Mother’s Day when we all had to wish our mammies greetings from a distance – and then send people back into unsafe workplaces.

“That is what is happening all across the country. It is intolerable and unacceptable that people are being left with so much risk. People are working on construction sites, in factories and call centres right across the island and they are not safe.

HEALTH Coronavirus
(PA Graphics)

“It is simply not possible in so many cases to practise safe physical distancing. In some workplaces there is not even sinks for people to keep their hands clean and certainly there is a lack of safety equipment.”

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin also called for greater restrictions to help tackle the outbreak.

Mr Martin said that while most people are adhering to social distancing guidelines, others are not.

“I think most people in the country that I have observed have been adhering to the guidelines that have been issued – there are very few people on the streets,” he said.

He said there is evidence of mass gatherings as well as people queuing for items like chips.

He added: “I think severe restrictions are required in terms of public gatherings as it’s all about protecting our senior citizens and protecting people with underlying conditions, so whatever it takes to protect those who are most vulnerable from this virus, then that has to be taken, subject to the public health advice that we will be receiving later.”

He also called for greater transparency around the clusters of coronavirus cases.

He said: “Currently, I think there should be greater transparency where outbreaks happen and where clusters happen because, when rumours develop, it is more constructive behaviour, in my view.

“I’m aware of some areas where people have contacted me about outbreaks in particular areas and that’s causing a lot of concern and I’ll be asking for greater transparency so people are aware.”

PA