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A pathway to recovery from COVID-19 for all communities and businesses in Dublin Mid West

THE first steps for communities in Dublin to emerge from current Covid-19 restrictions and support businesses to reopen have been announced, a Fine Gael TD, Emer Higgins has said.

Fine Gael TD Emer Higgins said a five-step, phased re-opening of the local economy and society in the coming months is the correct approach to take following the hard work and diligence shown by all in Dublin Mid West

“Ensuring we can begin Phase One on May 18th, as well as continuing to suppress the virus and reduce the spread of infection, must be everyone’s top priority. Together, we can help reduce the number of cases in Dublin Mid West by continuing to follow the health guidelines set out by the HSE.

“This week, we will begin to see some restrictions eased, including extending the exercise distance from your home to 5km and allowing those who are cocooning to take daily exercise, provided they have no contact with other people. However, it is important to note that it is possible for restrictions to be reintroduced if the rate of infection increases once again. This will be constantly monitored by the National Public Health Emergency Team and Government.

“The framework set out by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar over the May Bank Holiday weekend aims to keep the rate of infection as low as possible while proportionately balancing continuing restrictions with the positive social and economic benefits brought about by lifting some restrictions,” Deputy Higgins said.

“Physical distancing must continue. There are five phases in the recovery roadmap to ease restrictions but we can only move from one phase to the next if the spread of the virus stays under control. There will be a long-term need for physical distancing, for good hand hygiene, for respiratory hygiene, regular cleaning and for people to stay at home and isolate if they are sick.

“Entering the first phase in a safe and health-led manner has to be our priority. Let’s take it one step at a time.”

Phase One (18th May) measures include:

· 5km travel limit for exercise. Avoid unnecessary journeys. Small groups can meet outdoors.

· Childcare allowed for essential healthcare workers.

· Phased return of outdoor workers, provided physical distancing is adhered to. Remote working continues for all that can do so.

· Open retailers that are mainly outdoor & home-ware, e.g. opticians, motor/bicycle & repair, office products, electrical, IT, phone sales & repair. All subject to physical distancing.

· Open outdoor public amenities, including pitches, tennis courts and golf courses. Tourism sites, beaches and walking routes. Outdoor sporting and fitness activities, in groups max. four people can resume. Physical distancing must be adhered to.

· Social distancing and hygiene measures continue for public and private transport as passengers increase. Specific measures at ports and airports.

Deputy Higgins also said Fine Gael recognises people and businesses in Dublin Mid West have been impacted in an unprecedented and negative manner by the worldwide pandemic.

“A suite of measures have been announced to help local businesses restart, rehire and reopen as soon as possible, provided it is safe to do so. To date, we have introduced emergency income supports, such as the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme and the Pandemic Unemployment Payment. Our focus now is to help get people back to work and reopen businesses. We will help them as they plan for the future and adapt to the ‘new normal’.”

The new measures for businesses are:

  • A €10,000 restart grant for micro and small businesses based on a rates/waiver rebate from 2019;

  • A three-month commercial rates waiver for impacted businesses;

  • A €2 billion Pandemic Stabilisation and Recovery Fund within the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), which will make capital available to medium and large enterprises on commercial terms;

  • A €2 billion COVID-19 Credit Guarantee Scheme to support lending to SMEs for terms ranging from 3 months to 6 years, which will be below market interest rates;

  • The ‘warehousing’ of tax liabilities for a period of twelve months after recommencement of trading during which time there will be no debt enforcement action taken by Revenue and no interest charge accruing in respect of the warehoused debt;

  • A commitment to local authorities to make up the rates shortfall, so that local authorities can continue provide full services to the public

“I would like to thank all my Fine Gael colleagues in Government who have worked so diligently. This is an unprecedented time and there is no manual on how best to deal with a crisis of this nature. With the spirit and courage shown by all in Dublin Mid West since this began, I am absolutely confident we can come out of this stronger and more united than ever before.” Deputy Higgins said.

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