'Economic meltdown': Business leaders react to Midlands lockdown

Marie Geraghty, owner of the Card and Party shop in Athy, Co Kildare, puts up a sign advising the use of face masks. Photo: Niall Carson/PA

More than a 1,000 jobs will be lost in Co Kildare alone, causing “an economic meltdown”, following the Government’s decision to impose restrictions on Laois, Offaly and Kildare, it has been claimed.

“There has been absolutely no engagement or consultation from NPHET [National Public Health Emergency Team], the Health Service Executive, or anyone in Government,” said Allan Shine, the chief executive of County Kildare Chamber.

“We are at pains to understand why NPHET and Government could not take the stance to order a comprehensive sweep of community testing in the areas affected in Kildare, Laois and Offaly.”

He said a decision about lockdown could have been taken if mass testing showed quickly that the virus was widespread, adding that people in Co Kildare currently must travel to Dublin for Covid-19 tests because local testing was not available.

Hotels

Elaina Fitzgerald Kane, president of the Irish Hotels Federation, said that the latest restrictions were “deeply regrettable” and would have a “significant impact on the morale” of people in the country.

She added: “Health and safety must always be the number one priority and we recognise the difficult balance the Government has to achieve. However, these latest developments have highlighted the significant challenges and uncertainty facing Irish society and many businesses because of Covid-19.

“The Government must take action now to provide longer term support for those sectors of the economy that are most adversely affected by this pandemic including the tourism industry.”

Political reaction

A Fine Gael councillor in Portlaoise said the decision had left her “scratching her head” and showed there had been “absolutely no forward thinking”.

Writing on Twitter, Thomasina Connell said: “I’m disgusted to know this was on the radar 6 weeks ago. I know for a fact - meat factories have been problematic for weeks.

“This is completely unfair to #Laois Kildare and Offaly. Our people have complied and are being unfairly punished.”

Kildare TD and co-leader of the Social Democrats, Catherine Murphy, also hit out at the localised lockdown of her county.

“Lot of anger about this. Would u lock down all of Cork if there was an outbreak in Mizen or all of Dublin if there was an outbreak in The Naul. Surely it’s distance that matters,” she tweeted.