More supports needed for midlands counties
Kildare South based Labour Senator Mark Wall has called for additional supports for the midland’s counties affected by Covid-19 restrictions.
Senator Wall said while aspects of the Government’s package of measures are welcome, additional supports are needed to help businesses and people living in lockdown affected counties.
Senator Wall said:
“While the additional 20% top up to the restart grant is welcome, I would question having spent the last week engaging with affected businesses in the region whether 20% will be enough. Many of these businesses have told me that they have been pinned to the collar and are afraid if the restrictions are extended that they will not be able to reopen.
“I would also call on the Government to introduce a special staycation voucher for Laois, Kildare and Offaly. I know from talking to businesses on the ground that our towns are extremely quiet with footfall virtually non-existent with a handful of people passing up the main street every day. A special targeted measure such as a special staycation voucher for the affected counties would attract people to the area and increase footfall in our towns. It would also help the hospitality industry and hotels who have already lost three weekends business not to mention cancelled weddings and other functions and have already seen bookings dry up for the next couple of weeks.
“The Tánaiste also needs to commit to addressing the anomaly with the restart grant which he still has not acknowledged. Several business owners were in the process of applying for the initial grant when it was abruptly cut even though it was due to run until the end of August. While they are now in the process of applying for the restart plus grant, they have been made aware that businesses who received funding from the original restart grant will be eligible for funding again under restart plus. The Tánaiste needs to rectify this immediately because the additional money could mean the difference between survival or not for hard pressed businesses.
“The effects of these renewed restrictions stretch far beyond business and I am concerned about the ramifications for vulnerable people. A special taskforce is needed to examine the effects of the lockdown on the mental health of our people. I am particularly worried about younger people given the rolling sports club closures in the last few days due to Covid and the elderly many of whom were beginning to socialise again before the renewed restrictions. We need a taskforce to look at supports for these groups, particularly if we could end up with other localised lockdowns around the country.
“Many of the supports announced today should have been put in place a week ago when the restrictions were first announced, and our communities now need a similar intervention.