More than 58,000 people have applied for the Government’s Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment payment as the crisis takes hold.
The Government estimates 140,000 workers have already been laid off over the past week, while business representatives have warned another 200,000 people could be laid off over the coming days.
Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty said 58,000 people have applied for the Government’s emergency Covid-19 payment.
If you wish to change your payment method into your bank account, please use the form here https://t.co/6mSIxGnFSq and return to us.— welfare.ie (@welfare_ie) March 19, 2020
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All pubs, clubs and hotel bars were asked to close from midnight on Monday in a bid to limit the spread of the virus.
Ms Doherty said some 43,000 applications have been processed so far, and payments will go into accounts by the start of next week.
The payment is 203 euro per week and the money will be paid for six weeks – and will be available to all employees and the self-employed who have lost jobs.
The Dail is debating emergency legislation on Thursday afternoon to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak.
Due to social distancing measures – only 50 out of 160 TDs are allowed into the Dail chamber.
Addressing the chamber, Ceann Comhairle Sean O Fearghail said “This too will pass… but not before it has scarred our nation.
“Common sense and factual information must triumph, not ill-judged rumours or mutterings on social media.
“Considerably more sadness will visit our towns in the days and weeks ahead. This is an exhausting marathon, not a sprint.”
Health Minister Simon Harris said Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy will introduce legislation to the Dail next week to protect renters during the pandemic.
Mr Harris said: “A number of deputies have raise concerns in relation to protecting and supporting renters at this difficult time, I know my colleague Mr Murphy intends to bring forward legislation in that regard.”
Addressing the Dail, Mr Harris thanked the public and healthcare workers for all their help during the crisis.
Speaking in Dail on emergency legislation for #COVID19 I took the opportunity to thank our health service staff and their families. They have made huge personal sacrifices. Their bravery and courage have been matched by generosity of the Irish people.— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) March 19, 2020
“There is no time for petty party politics during this crisis,” he said.
Mr Harris paid tribute to health staff working amid the Covid-19 crisis.
He said: “These are unparalleled and extraordinary circumstances we are living in.
“Our health service staff and their families have made, and continue to make, massive personal sacrifices in the face of this global pandemic. Their bravery and courage, has been matched by the generosity of the Irish people.
“Over 30,000 people have answered the call from the government to offer the Health Service Executive their assistance during this time of crisis. Thousands of people are putting their hand up and say, ‘I want to be on call for our country’.
“Today, we say thank you to each and every one of them. Thank you also to the men, women and the children across this country, helping their neighbours, the friends, the families, as we all struggle to adjust to what is a temporary, but very significant new reality.”
Fianna Fail TD Stephen Donnelly told the Dail the 15,000 figure for the number of cases of Covid-19 the Government has predicted by the end of the month is “a worst case scenario”.
He addeD: “The measures we are taking now should slow that growth rate and does not include the potential impact of schools being closed and the efforts being made by the public and businesses.”
Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald called on Irish citizens to be protected by the Government throughout and after the Covid-19 crisis.
She said: “During this emergency, we must ensure no worker is unable to pay their rent, that nobody will have to default on their mortgage and that no-one will have their utilities cut off or be without enough income to put down food on their table.
“Everything that we do now socially, economically and politically must have health as its sole priority.”
Emergency laws to lock down parts of Ireland or order people to stay indoors during the coronavirus outbreak will only be used to save lives, the Health Minister said.
Speaking ahead of the Dail, Mr Harris said he hoped he would never be required to use any of the powers the Government is set to secure with the passage of legislation in the Dail later on Thursday.
Under the laws, which will initially be in place until May 9, the authorities can order people to stay indoors, close down non-essential businesses, cancel events and have the ability to impose targeted restrictions on specific areas of the country.
“We will only use these on the advice of the chief medical officer (Dr Tony Holohan) and our public health experts because we don’t expect to be in this place, we don’t want to be in this place,” he said.
Mr Harris, speaking to RTE Radio 1, said the legislation would mean if such decisions had to be taken, they could been taken quickly.
“We need to have those powers to act decisively to save lives,” he said.
A total of 366 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Ireland to date. Two people with the illness have died.