The Government had originally intended to introduce a new scheme targeting businesses affected by the new Covid restrictions brought in last Friday but the Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said that this plan would prove costly and it may not have been possible to introduce it before Christmas.
“Upon further analysis of the proposal by my Department and the Revenue Commissioners, it became clear that it would be complex to develop an appropriate and effective scheme in the immediate term,” the minister stated, “Instead, I’ve decided to extend the enhanced rates of EWSS for the months of December and January to give certainty to businesses when they need it most.”
The Government has therefore reversed an earlier decision to continue tapering the EWSS rate following intensive representations from the VFI and wider hospitality sector.
There was also confirmation that the commercial rates waiver would remain in place until the end of March next year too for the hospitality, events, tourism and entertainment sectors at a cost to the Exchequer of €62 million.
The CRSS will be extended until January the 31st 2022 to allow nightclubs closed under Health Regulations until January the 9th to access the support too.
“The restoration of the EWSS to its full rate back-dated to 1st December is welcome news as the trade approaches Christmas,” commented VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribben, “It will mean keeping staff in their jobs through the Festive Season and into the new year, which is hugely important.
“However Government will need to engage with the sector on an ongoing basis as it remains unclear if restrictions will be extended. If that’s the case, further supports will be required.
“Even with these supports, there’s huge uncertainty for the pub trade as it heads into the new year and the upcoming second anniversary of the crisis. Government must talk to us about a long-term plan for the sector because without one the trade will collapse,” he concluded.
The Restaurants Association of Ireland also welcomed the decision.
“This was the correct decision due to severe loss in business due to Public Health advice,” stated the RAI which is also calling on the government for a medium to long-term plan for recovery and viability of Hospitality due to Covid.
But Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath warned that business supports linked to the pandemic will have to end sometime. He said that the EWSS and its predecessor had cost the country €9 billion since last March.