The number of people claiming the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) increased by over 15 per cent this week as almost 62,000 additional workers became eligible.
The Department of Social Protection confirmed 459,921 received the PUP this week, representing a bill of €138.07 million.
Over 5,042 people closed their PUP claims as they returned to work.
The accommodation and food service sector had the highest number of workers receiving the PUP with 110,351, followed by wholesale and retail trade (73,382), which remain closed due to Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions.
Another sector forced to close under the latest set of restrictions was the construction industry, which noted the biggest weekly increase in workers availing of the PUP, jumping from 32,152 to 56,217.
Dublin had the highest number of people in receipt of the payment (142,495), followed by 47,447 in Cork, 24,353 in Galway and 20,328 in Kildare.
Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said the weekly figures serve as a stark reminder of the impact of Covid-19, adding the current levels of PUP recipients is on par with June 2020.
A statement from the Department reminded self-employed people in receipt of the PUP that they can earn up to €960 over an eight-week period while retaining the full PUP payment.