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More than 30,000 people no longer receiving pandemic unemployment payment

Some 80% of people who were receiving the payment have been able to return to work

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Liz Canavan speaking in Government Buildings (Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland)

Liz Canavan speaking in Government Buildings (Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland)

Liz Canavan speaking in Government Buildings (Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland)

More than 33,000 people have come off the Government’s coronavirus pandemic unemployment payment as they have returned to work.

The 350 euro per week payment is available for employees and self-employed people who have lost all their employment due to the pandemic.

Senior Government official Liz Canavan said as of April 9, more than 33,000 people have closed off their payment.

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(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

Press Association Images

(PA Graphics)

She said: “Approximately 80% of these claims were closed because the recipient has returned to work. Some 5% of these said they were claiming another social benefit payment, while 15% did not give a specific reason why they closed their payment.”

It was confirmed that 40,300 employers have now registered for the Temporary Wage Subsidy scheme, with 34 million euro in wage refunds already paid out.

Ms Canavan said the Easter Bunny may not be able to visit Irish households this Easter.

She added: “There are many good reasons why the Easter bunny may not be able to visit households this year, so whether the Easter Bunny arrives or not – celebrate the day and stay at home.”

Health Minister Simon Harris said new laws preventing unnecessary travel are “not about snitching on your neighbour”, as he appealed to people to stay at home this weekend.

Mr Harris signed beefed-up regulations on Tuesday night that will give Gardai the power to arrest and detain individuals flouting the Covid-19 restrictions.

The laws are due to expire at midnight on Easter Sunday, but there are concerns people are more likely to make unnecessary trips with sunny weather forecast for the weekend.

Mr Harris told Virgin Media News that enforcement of the laws will be used sparingly.

“It is important that the guards have it as a last resort but they do have powers to ask you to return home. We have got to remember why they’re doing this; they’re doing it because they’re trying to keep you safe,” he said.

On Wednesday, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said people should contact Gardai if they are aware of people flouting the new laws.

Mr Harris said: “I think we have got to be clear here, I mean this is not a police state. The people are already working really hard in really difficult and stressful circumstances. People have been cooped up at home for a number of weeks trying to keep the kids occupied and people are trying their best.

“I think what we’re asking the Irish people this weekend is to show common sense and we’re all in this together.

“If I decided to break the public health rules this weekend, I’m putting your family at risk. It’s not about snitching on the neighbour. It’s about basically realising the seriousness of this.

“We have lost 235 Irish people to coronavirus, we have seen more than 200 people through our ICU so far, and sadly actually the majority of people in the ICUs aren’t just older people that are being referred to.

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(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

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(PA Graphics)

“Everyone seems to think this is just a virus that affects older people, and it’s also affecting many younger people at different ages as well so this is a virus that doesn’t discriminate on age, doesn’t discriminate gender, and it could not be more serious.

“So this Easter weekend we are asking you to stay at home. The alternative is so much worse.”

When asked what advice he would give to someone who has a neighbour flouting the law, he said: “The first thing you should do is drop the neighbour a text and say ‘come on now – you’re putting us all at risk here’.

“Of course if you feel that the public health advice isn’t being supported then the law of the land is clear and of course you should contact Gardai, but I don’t think we’re in that space.

“There will always be the few people who think they know better, and there will always be a few people that will flout whatever laws are in the country, but there has been a huge level of compliance in this country.”

PA