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Wednesday 8 February 2023 Dublin: 7°C
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# PUP returns
Government reintroduces PUP as restrictions hit entertainment and hospitality sectors
Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys confirmed the measure in a tweet this evening.

LAST UPDATE | Dec 3rd 2021, 8:42 PM

THE GOVERNMENT HAS announced that it will reinstate the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) for all workers who lose their jobs as restrictions are reintroduced. 

Minister for Social Protection, Heather Humphreys confirmed the measure in a tweet this evening. 

“I know many workers will be worried tonight. The Pandemic Unemployment Payment will reopen for applications for workers impacted by latest restrictions. My Department will work on this as a matter of urgency & full details will be announced over coming days,” she said. 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced the fresh curbs this evening following advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).

Under the new measures, from 7 December to 9 January, nightclubs will close and strict social distancing will be required in all bars and restaurants, including hotels.

The measures are a return to the situation that prevailed before restrictions were rolled back in late October. The following rules will be in place:

  • Table service only,
  • One metre between tables,
  • A maximum of six adults per table,
  • No multiple table bookings,
  • Masks must be worn when not at the table,

Live events have also been scaled back to 50% capacity and they must all be fully seated. This applies to entertainment, cultural, community and sporting events.

Use of the Covid Pass was also extended to gyms and leisure centres and hotel bars and restaurants. 

Adrian Cummins of the Restaurants Association of Ireland said the new measures are very disappointing for the industry but he believes the Government is going to support the sector. 

“We need to see the details of the business support scheme. Obviously there’s a major blow to hospitality at the moment, but we’ve always said that we will protect public health and abide by the restrictions,” Cummins told The Journal.

“We believe we will be sitting down with Government on Monday to discuss how the new scheme will be implemented,” he added.

The Government announced an extension of the targeted commercial rates waiver for the first three months of 2022.

The waiver specifically targets businesses in the hospitality and entertainment sector who are impacted by continued restrictions.

The total cost of commercial rates waiver arrangements, from March 2020 to date, is now almost €1.5 billion.

Last Wednesday, employment wage subsidy scheme (EWSS) rates were reduced as part of a plan to gradually wind the scheme down.

However, many businesses and representative groups have called for this to be reversed, saying they are still feeling the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and struggling to pay staff.

The hospitality sector is among those worst affected as people cancel bookings amid growing fears of the Omicron variant and the possibility of more restrictions being introduced.

Sven Spollen-Behrens, Small Firms Association Director, called for the full reinstatement of Covid-19 financial supports in response to the recent Government announcement on the reintroduction of Covid restrictions.  

“If businesses are being forced to either close completely or deal with very significant turnover declines due to public health measures, the onus is on Government to ensure these businesses are adequately supported. 

“Many small businesses depend on the Christmas trading season as a lifeline for the rest of the year. With this trading period now effectively gone, the state must step in to ensure a wave of permanent closures does not happen” Spollen-Behrens said.  

VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribben said that workers in the sector were facing into a bleak Christmas.

“Earlier this year our sector was promised there would be no return to previous restrictions so today’s news is extremely disappointing. We are going backwards with little sense of what the future holds for the trade.

“Publicans are asking how we get to a stage where we can trade safely without restrictions. Right now Government is offering little advice. They have promised to meet us early in the New Year to map out the next 12 months but considering we though the crisis would be over by now the trade is in a very dark place.

“There are supports available, including the return of the CRSS but we’ll need to analyse the details to see how many of our members qualify. The reality is this is another disastrous day for the pub trade,” he said.

With reporting from Céimin Burke

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