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More than 850,000 people now claiming Covid-19 unemployment benefits

Tánaiste Simon Coveney also confirmed the Department of Foreign Affairs has helped some 4,600 Irish citizens return home.

Image: Shutterstock/Syda Productions

MORE THAN 850,000 people are claiming unemployment benefits due to the coronavirus crisis which has left many businesses struggling across Ireland.

Figures show that hundreds of thousands of people are receiving the new Covid-19 pandemic unemployment benefit as well as those who are registered for the wage subsidy scheme.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney said that the country is facing extraordinary challenges.

“I think it’s clear that the aftermath of Covid-19, Ireland post-crisis will be a different place,” Coveney said.

“The role of community will be different, the role of the State in terms of its relationship with the private sector will be different.

Nobody should fool themselves that actually recovering from this is going to be easy.

“There are 730,000 people today without a job.There’s 130,000 people today with the State paying 70% of their wages, and all of that has happened in the space of about three weeks,” Coveney said.

“We have never faced anything like this as a country before, so it’s not going to be easy.

“We have to find a way of rebuilding an economy, doing that in a way that doesn’t isolate people or disadvantaged people because of their circumstance, we have to make sure that the rising tide that will start later on in the summer, I suspect, will lift all boats and that won’t be easy.

“The State is going to have to borrow a lot of money and run significant deficits for a period of time.”

Travelling home

Coveney also said the Department of Foreign Affairs has helped some 4,600 Irish citizens return home.

The department has assisted just under 500 Irish citizens home on rescue flights or charter flights that were organised by other EU Member States or by the UK.

“We will continue to work with Irish people right across the world,” he told RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke Show.

“Our call centre has taken over 16,000 calls,” he said.

“The aviation industry has been turned on its head. Airspace in certain parts of the world has been shut down, which has made it very difficult and quite complicated to get people home from places like Australia and New Zealand, and other parts of the world.”

The Tánaiste also said that not every Irish citizen who wants to come home will be able to do so, but added that his department will work with them to try and arrange a flight.

He said a lot of Irish citizens remain in Australia and New Zealand.

Childcare

It comes as the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) will discuss childcare provisions for healthcare workers later today.

Creches and schools were closed last month, leaving many healthcare workers with no childcare.

Yesterday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the government is working on childcare for healthcare workers during the emergency, but it needs to be cleared by the NPHET.

“There are essential workers in the economy and in the health service who are struggling and want to get to work but can’t because childcare is not available to them.

“While we are ready to push the button in terms of providing childcare for essential workers, we need clearance from the public health team, and that it in itself does not become a public health risk or allow the virus to be spread.”

The coronavirus death toll in Ireland is 174, with 16 further deaths reported yesterday.

There were 370 new confirmed cases, taking the overall total to 5,364.

Government ministers will also be briefed on the latest developments on Covid-19 at a Cabinet meeting, and whether restrictions can be lifted.

Chief medical officer Tony Holohan said a formal recommendation will not be made until Friday.

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