New Restrictions necessary but extra resources for contact tracing needed

22 December 2020
  • Essential workers over Christmas should be allowed travel for a few more days after 26th.
  • Additional supports needed asap for workers and businesses forced to close.
  • Tracing system must be radically improved.

With Covid-19 cases rapidly rising the decision to impose new restrictions including the UK travel ban was warranted but it will impact heavily on workers and businesses who will need new supports, and Labour Party Leader Alan Kelly said that the intercounty travel ban would hit essential workers who should be allowed travel outside their county for a few more days, and that additional resources must be put into our testing and tracing system.

Deputy Kelly said:
“After days of uncertainty the Cabinet has finally met this morning, so at least we have some clarity now on what the new Covid-19 measures are. The rapid rise in Covid-19 cases is deeply worrying, and warranted a change in direction but will cause huge disruption in the hospitality trade in particular. We agree with the continued UK travel ban until we have more information on this new strain.

“Many families will have made careful plans over the Christmas period spacing out visits and interactions, but those plans have now been turned upside down. This is very difficult for everybody, and it is essential now that people reduce their socialising, limit their interactions and together we can all protect our most vulnerable.

“The new ban on intercountry travel from the 27th December will especially impact on essential Christmas workers, many of whom are healthcare workers who took shifts on Christmas week on the basis they would see family in the first week of January. Consideration should be given to allow essential workers over Christmas home and I would urge the government to consider granting them a few extra days for inter-county travel after the 26th December.

“What is clear from the rapid increase in Covid-19 cases is that our tracing system and measures in place to restrict transmission of the disease needs to be ramped up to ensure we can clamp down on new cases as quickly as possible. That means more mass testing in locations where outbreaks occur, mandatory testing at our airports, and the use of rapid antigen testing in schools and other work settings to quickly identify new and emerging cases.

“The government will roll out additional supports for businesses and workers, but there must be a full consultation with the affected sectors, some of whom are entering their third lockdown, and many businesses won’t survive. The lockdown will impact severely on workers who would have been relying on extra Christmas shifts to cover bills so I would urge the Department of Social Protection to have sufficient staff in place to process new PUP applications.”

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