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Leo Varadkar says 'third wave' considerations played into €5.4 billion contingency funding

Varadkar also said that any decision on whether the country would move to a Level 4 lockdown would be taken on Friday.

Tánaitse and Business Minister Leo Varadkar at this evening's briefing.
Tánaitse and Business Minister Leo Varadkar at this evening's briefing.
Image: Julien Behal/RollingNews.ie

TÁNAISTE LEO VARADKAR has said that the government was forced to put extra funding aside in the Budget in part due to the possibility of a third wave of Covid-19.

Varadkar was speaking this afternoon and also said that any decisions on whether the country would need to move to a Level 4 lockdown would be taken on Friday.

In his Budget speech this afternoon, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said that €2.1 billion in contingency funding was being put aside for next year, with another €3.4 earmarked for a Recovery Fund to stimulate demand and employment in the context of Covid-19 and Brexit.

Speaking about that funding this afternoon, Varadkar said this money is because we cannot predict what will happen with Covid-19 and that there may be a “third wave” of the virus.

“The reason why we set aside €2 billion in contingency for health and social welfare and €3.4 billion and contingency for Covid and Brexit is that we don’t know what’s going to happen with the pandemic,” he said.

We don’t know when the second wave will end, it will end. We don’t know if there’ll be a third wave and when it will start, how long it might go on for. So we have to be in a position, if needs be, when we look at this again in November around the time when we have the national economic plan done, and in the new year, to make decisions. 

Varadkar said that the government will have to examine if schemes such as the Pandemic Unemployment Payment, the wage subsidy scheme and the new Covid Restrictions Support Scheme (CRSS) would be extended beyond the current March date. 

The new CRSS provides support for businesses that have had to close as a result of Covid-19 restrictions at Level 3 or higher. 

Asked at the same briefing if there is a greater likelihood of moving to Level 4 this week than there was last week, Varadkar said: 

“I think we’ll have a better idea on that on Friday. So obviously, we’ll have the up to date modelling from Professor Nolan on Thursday and we’ll be in a position to make any decisions for the country as a whole on Friday.”

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Rónán Duffy

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