Galway City is the most at risk urban centre in Ireland to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic according to a report from the Northern and Western Regional Assembly.
The Department of Finance has predicted that the Irish economy will contract by approximately 10.5% this year as a result of COVID-19 and the public restrictions use to fight it, while unemployment will rise to 22%.
That prediction prompted the three Regional Assemblies to prepare a COVID-19 Regional Economic Analysis to identify the areas which will be hurt the worst by restriction imposed during this pandemic.
The purpose of compiling this report was to inform policymakers at a local, regional and
national level of the extent of economic exposure and resilience in the different regions of Ireland.
Cathaoirleach for the Northern and Western Regional Assembly, Cllr Declan McDonnell acknowledged that out of the three regions, the Northern and Western region had the highest “COVID-19 Exposure Ratio” of businesses which are at the greatest risk.
Analysis showed that 48.6 per cent of the region’s businesses are operating in the worst affected sectors, likely to be badly hit by the crisis.
While County Galway doesn’t fare too badly as a while in this analysis, in better shape than many counties in the west, the same is not true of Galway City.
Many of the city’s wholesale and retail, accommodation and food services, and the arts and entertainment sectors are likely to be severely impacted by this crisis, causing “significant distress” to the local and regional economy.
Galway City and its suburbs have an exposure ratio of 46.1% according to the data gathered for this report, higher than Waterford (45%), Limierick (44.9%), Cork (40.1%), or Dublin (38.4%).
In total there are 1,532 business in Galway which are in sectors faring the worst in the Covid-19 crisis.
But Galway City is far from the worst faring town in the county. Among the the top 15 most vulnerable settlements in the country is Clifden, where 58.1% of businesses are in vulnerable sectors.
“It should be noted that the potential duration of this economic impact is unclear and is largely dependent on the continuation of the current restrictions and the broader international context,” the report says.
But it also includes a comforting note that “nevertheless, as restrictions are lifted many of these sectors should gradually improve”.
Ireland will begin to come out the Covid-19 lockdown on Monday, May 18, gradually lifting restrictions in five phases.
Food industry businesses such as cafés and restaurants are not expected to reopen until June, while pubs will have to wait until August under the current plan.
Many in the hospitality industry have warned that without government support a great many businesses will be forced to close permanently with social distancing restrictions in place.