ISME writes to Taoiseach following new COVID restrictions

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The Irish SME Association (ISME) has written to An Taoiseach Micheál Martin after new COVID-19 restrictions came into effect on Monday.

ISME called on the Government to implement a strategic approach to the management of the disease, pointing to the impacts that the recurrent lockdown announcements are having on the structure of the SME base in the country.

ISME is encouraging Government to develop a staged approach to the management of further variants, where the public and businesses know in advance what measures will apply when caseloads get too high.

“Many businesses across the retail and hospitality sectors earn a disproportionate amount of their annual revenues in December,” said Neil McDonnell, CEO of ISME.

“And many of these businesses are in those sectors worst affected by the pandemic.”

“Given the likelihood that Omicron will not be the last variant of Covid-19 that we will face, we urgently need a coherent Government strategy to enable us to live with this virus (or any future viral pandemic), which includes prearranged public health measures and restrictions once certain infection criteria are reached.”

Mr McDonnell said that we cannot afford a continuation of short-notice, ad hoc measures of the type announced last week in response to disease case numbers.

He said that the reimposition of restrictions on the hospitality sector will have long-term implications for its ability to attract and retain skilled labour, raise capital or acquire property.

Calling for a review of NPHET in early 2022, Neil McDonnell added that NPHET modelling and advice has been less accurate than we would expect from our public health advisors.

“It is just over a year since we wrote to the Tánaiste to ask for an active program of testing workers returning to Ireland post-Christmas, and for assistance with workplace testing of employees, which was not implemented,” he said.

“In addition, the resistance of NPHET to RADT and air purification, and its effective rejection of the Report of the COVID-19 Rapid Testing Group last April, makes a review of the composition of this team imperative early in the New Year.”