Pandemic Unemployment Payment to restart as restrictions hit economy again

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Pandemic Unemployment Payment To Restart As Restrictions Hit Economy Again Pandemic Unemployment Payment To Restart As Restrictions Hit Economy Again
Curbs on hospitality, the nighttime economy and the events sector will be in place from Tuesday until January 9th. Photo: PA
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Tomas Doherty

The State is to temporarily restart the Covid-19 Pandemic Unemployment Payment scheme for people who lose their jobs as a result of new restrictions on the entertainment sector.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin confirmed on Friday evening that curbs on hospitality, the nighttime economy and the events sector will be in place from Tuesday until January 9th.

Indoor events will have to operate at 50 per cent capacity, a measure promoters say will make concerts unprofitable.

Bars and restaurants, which have been subject to various levels of restrictions since the start of the pandemic, must not accept bookings for more than six people and must only offer table service.

Nightclubs, which opened for the first time in over 18 months in October, will have to close under the new rules.

Speaking at news conference on Friday, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar confirmed a limited reopening of the Pandemic Unemployment Payment. He said a small number of people, "maybe in the thousands," will be eligible.

The Government said there will be a number of refinements to the scheme design to target it more effectively.

The Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) will remain in place at current rates of payment and qualification criteria.

A new scheme will be introduced specifically for businesses in the hospitality sector that are subject to the new restrictions on operating. A Government statement said the scheme would involve a weekly payment of 12 per cent of turnover for qualifying businesses.

There will be a further extension of the current Commercial Rates Waiver for the first quarter of 2022.

The Government also said it would make additional funding of €25 million available to support the live entertainment sector.

Angela Dorgan, chair of the National Campaign for the Arts lobby group, said the fresh restrictions were "utterly devastating". – Additional reporting: Reuters

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